Only two months after an uber-hyped U.S.-North Korea summit, all remains status-quo, with old tensions visible again.
The good news is that a war seems no closer than before. The bad news is that the U.S. demand that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un end his nuclear ambitions also seems no closer than before.
President Donald Trump and aides went into a defensive spin.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's trip to Pyongyang this week was canceled for lack of progress, amid reports of a belligerent message to the White House from Kim.
The president still reiterated his "very good and warm" relations with Kim but posed the threat of a return to joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan that he said would be "bigger than ever before."
Those exercises, suspended at Kim's demand, could resume next spring.
Lacking progress, Trump looked to blame China and the U.S. trade conflict with the People's Republic. The Beijing regime, he tweeted, was shipping "money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities" to North Korea, which he said is "not helpful" in applying pressure for denuclearization.
Other interested parties sounded less than impressed with Trump's complaint.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying blew off Trump's rationale. “The U.S. side’s irresponsible distortion of facts and logic is world-leading and really not something the ordinary person can understand,” Hua said Thursday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in indicated that the Pompeo cancellation could make Moon's separate meeting with Kim next month — with an eye toward expanding economic ties to the north — all the more useful.
Some speculated in published reports that this could mean a separate deal between the Koreas that would eclipse U.S. interests.
Despite Trump's continued abandonment of "fire and fury" rhetoric, the State Department said it will extend by a year its ban on U.S. citizens’ travel to North Korea. Officials cited a threat of U.S. nationals being detained there.
And so, all the chatter about Nobel Prizes unleashed by the Trump-Kim photo op in Singapore becomes a not-so-distant memory.