Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pyongyang Postpones North-South Summit

SEOUL -- North Korea, making its first foreign policy moves since the death of leader Kim Il Sung, on Monday postponed indefinitely what was to have been an unprecedented meeting of the North and South's presidents.


The North also has told the United States it is putting off further high-level contacts until after Kim's state funeral Sunday. Talks on the long-running dispute over the North's nuclear program had resumed Friday, the day of Kim's unexpected death at 82.


Kim's son and designated successor, Kim Jong Il, met ambassadors in Pyongyang on Monday when they went to pay their respects to the late leader's body, a diplomat said by telephone.


Many inside and outside South Korea had feared the elder Kim's death would trigger a chaotic power struggle. The South's military remained watchful Monday, but defense officials said there had been no unusual military moves.


On first hearing of Kim's death, many South Koreans feared it was the result of a coup by hardliners. But Han said there was no indication Kim had died from anything but natural causes. Former CIA director Robert Gates said Monday that he would not rule out the possibility that Kim was killed by hardliners wary of the tack he was taking with Washington and Seoul.


In a sign that jitters were abating in the South, prices fell Monday on the Korean Stock Exchange -- the first trading day since Kim's death -- but only moderately. Some analysts had predicted a steeper decline.


In the North, frenzied mourning marked the passing of Kim, who during his four decades of rule was the center of a worshipful personality cult. In a central Pyongyang plaza facing a towering statue of Kim, tens of thousands of people knelt, weeping, wailing and touching their heads to the ground.


The secretive North provided television footage of these scenes to Japanese television, which was seen as a sign that Northern officials believed the threat of instability had been staved off.


The North also appeared to be trying to restore some normalcy to day-to-day life, although official tribute to the elder Kim will continue all week.


The official radio has again begun broadcasting regular news reports, instead of the all-mourning format following Kim's death.


While Kim Jong Il is apparently in the seat of power, he has not yet formally assumed leadership. Some North Korea watchers believe that could happen soon.


South Korea, meanwhile, was struggling to find a path through the peninsula's changed political landscape. At a Cabinet meeting Monday, officials declared they would continue to seek reconciliation with the North.


But hopes for an early rescheduling of a North-South presidential summit, originally set to take place in just two weeks, were dashed Monday.


The North informed the South the summit was off -- and made no mention of when, or even whether, such a meeting might now take place.


U.S. officials have voiced optimism about prospects for resuming high-level talks with the North, although the North did not suggest any date.


Those talks are considered crucial to resolving the dispute over the North's nuclear program. North Korea says its nuclear program is peaceful but has refused to allow full inspections to confirm it is not developing nuclear arms. The United States suspended its push for sanctions against the North pending the outcome of the Geneva talks.