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President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their summit in Singapore. Photo: Susan Walsh/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump has directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel his upcoming trip to North Korea, saying the country was not "making sufficient progress with respect to denuclearization."

Why it matters: Despite the pledge North Korea made at the summit in Singapore in June to commit to denuclearization, the Kim regime has yet to take any significant steps toward doing so.

The China angle: Trump also tweeted that, because of his tougher stance with China, he does "not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were." He added that he thinks Pompeo will be able to return to North Korea once the trade issues with China have been settled.

  • Between the lines, per Axios contributor Bill Bishop: The North Korea issue is one that could quickly return to the forefront of U.S. policy towards China if Beijing is easing off the sanctions pressure.
  • The Singapore Straits Times has reported that Xi Jinping is planning to attend the celebrations for the 70th anniversary founding of North Korea in Pyongyang in September, and if he goes it seems unlikely he would show up without bearing some gifts.
  • If President Trump decides North Korea is playing him, and Beijing is complicit, then it wouldn't be surprising to see U.S. sanctions on China and North Korea back on the table.

The tweets:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

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Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

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Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.