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N Korea tells US denuclearisation talks may fall apart: CNN

Washington

NORTH Korean officials have warned in a letter to the United States that denuclearisation talks were "again at stake and may fall apart", CNN reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The letter was delivered directly to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and stated that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's government felt that the process could not move forward.

"The US is still not ready to meet (North Korean) expectations in terms of taking a step forward to sign a peace treaty," CNN reported, citing sources.

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The 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving US-led UN forces technically still at war with North Korea.

The North has long made clear that it sees an official end to the state of war as crucial to lowering tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The United States has been reluctant to declare an end to the Korean War until after North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons programme.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that US President Donald Trump called off a visit to North Korea by Mr Pompeo after the latter received a belligerent letter from a senior North Korean official just hours after the trip was announced last week. CNN reported that the letter was sent by the former head of North Korea's spy agency, Kim Yong Chol, but it was not known how it was sent. The Washington Post said North Korea had been increasingly communicating through its UN mission.

CNN reported that the letter also mentioned that if a compromise could not be reached and the nascent talks crumbles, North Korea could resume "nuclear and missile activities".

On Sunday, North Korea's state media accused the United States of "double-dealing" and "hatching a criminal plot" but did not mention Mr Pompeo's cancelled visit.

The Washington Post said the exact contents of the message were unclear, but it was sufficiently belligerent that Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo decided to call off the planned trip.

In cancelling Mr Pompeo's trip, Mr Trump publicly acknowledged for the first time that his effort to get North Korea to denuclearise had stalled since his June 12 summit with Mr Kim in Singapore.

US intelligence and defence officials have repeatedly expressed doubts about North Korea's willingness to give up its nuclear weapons and they had not expected Mr Pompeo's trip to yield positive results. REUTERS