Tuesday 19 March 2019

North Korea may suspend talks over 'gangster-like stand of US'

Summit: US and North Korea leaders met in Hanoi. Photo: Reuters
Summit: US and North Korea leaders met in Hanoi. Photo: Reuters

Joyce Lee and Josh Smith

North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, a senior diplomat said yesterday, according to news reports from the North's capital.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Washington the United States wished to continue talks with North Korea and had "every expectation" that its leader, Kim Jong-un, would stick to pledges not to resume nuclear and missile testing.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui blamed top US officials for the breakdown of last month's summit in Hanoi between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump, Russia's TASS news agency and the Associated Press reported.

"We have no intention to yield to the US demands (at the Hanoi summit) in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind," TASS quoted Ms Choe as telling reporters in the North.

Ms Choe said Mr Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton "created the atmosphere of hostility and mistrust and, therefore, obstructed the constructive effort for negotiations between the supreme leaders of North Korea and the United States", she said.

Mr Kim is set to make an official announcement soon on his position on the denuclearisation talks with the US and the North's further actions, TASS added, citing Ms Choe.

She said Washington threw away a golden opportunity at the summit and warned Mr Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, the AP reported.

"I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the US will eventually put the situation in danger," AP quoted Ms Choe as saying.

But, she added: "Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful."

Mr Bolton told reporters outside the White House he had seen the statement from the North Korean official and that "I think that's inaccurate", but wanted to consult with other US officials before responding further.

Mr Pompeo told reporters it was not the first time he had been called "gangster-like" by North Korea. "And following that we continued to have very professional conversations... I have every expectation we will be able to continue to do that," he said.

Irish Independent

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