The U.S. on Thursday extended the ban on Americans’ travel to North Korea for another year, saying it was too dangerous to go there.
“The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities,” a State Department official said. “The travel warning for North Korea remains in place — the Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens not to travel to North Korea.”
The travel ban extension, in force until August 31 next year, comes as Washington’s efforts to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula with Pyongyang have stalled.
When President Donald Trump left the June summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the U.S. leader declared that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat,” believing that Kim had agreed to end the North’s nuclear weapons program.
In recent days, however, Trump, irked by the slow pace of subsequent nuclear talks on how and when North Korea would dismantle its nuclear arsenal, ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to forego a planned trip to Pyongyang for more negotiations.
The State Department said that under U.S. law Pompeo can impose geographic travel restrictions on Americans under any of three conditions – if a country is at war with the U.S., there are armed hostilities in a country or region, or “there is imminent danger to the public health or physical safety of U.S. travelers in the country or area.”
Pompeo, the State Department official said, used the third of the criteria in extending the travel ban.
VOA State Department Correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report.