Sunday, March 24, 2019 | ePaper

North Korea may suspend nuclear talks with ‘gangster-like' US: Diplomat

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North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui spesks at a gathering for diplomats in Pyongyang.

Reuters , Seoul  :
North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, news reports from the North's capital on Friday quoted a senior diplomat as saying.
Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top U.S. officials for the breakdown of last month's summit in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russia's Tass news agency and the Associated Press said.
"We have no intention to yield to the U.S. demands (at the Hanoi summit) in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind," TASS quoted Choe as telling reporters in the North Korean capital.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike 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", Tass quoted Choe as saying.
Kim is set to make an official announcement soon on his position on the denuclearisation talks with the United States and the North's further actions, it added, citing Choe.
Choe said Washington threw away a golden opportunity at the summit and warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, the Associated Press news agency said.
"I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the U.S. will eventually put the situation in danger," AP quoted her as saying. But she added: "Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful."
South Korea, which has an ambitious agenda of engagement with North Korea that is dependent on Pyongyang and Washington resolving at least some of their differences, said it was too early to tell what Choe's comments might mean.
"We cannot judge the current situation based solely on Vice Minister Choe Son Hui's statements. We are watching the situation closely. In any situation, our government will endeavour for the restart of North Korea-U.S. negotiations," South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement.
Choe's comments echoed the North's usual rhetoric at tense points in its dealings with Washington. North Korea expert Joshua Pollack said North Korea may be delivering an ultimatum.
"They're putting down a marker, saying which way things are headed if nothing changes," Pollack, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said.
The second Trump-Kim summit broke down over differences about U.S. demands for Pyongyang to denuclearise and North Korea's demand for dramatic relief from international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile tests, which it pursued for years in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Choe had said after the Hanoi talks that Kim might lose his commitment to pursue a deal with the United States after seeing it reject a request to lift some sanctions in return for the North destroying its main known nuclear complex.

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