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 Pyongyang have said quoting a senior diplomat.
Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top US officials for the breakdown of last month’s summit in Hanoi between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russia’s TASS news agency and the Associated Press said on Friday.
“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 Choe as telling reporters in the North Korean capital.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor 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 regarding the denuclearisation talks with the US 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 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 her as saying.
But she added: “Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful.”
Choe’s remarks echoed the North’s usual rhetoric at tense points in its dealings with Washington.
She said statements by senior Trump advisers since the summit have further worsened the climate.
In Washington, Pompeo and Bolton disputed the allegation. “They are wrong about that. I was there,” Pompeo said on Friday. Bolton said in any case Trump “is our decision-maker”.
Pompeo said the US expects Kim to live up to his promise to Trump to maintain the moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests.
“In Hanoi, on multiple occasions, he spoke directly to the president and made a commitment that he would not resume nuclear testing nor would he resume missile testing,” Pompeo said. “So that’s Chairman Kim’s word. We have every expectation he will live up to that commitment.”
South Korea‘s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has come out to say Choe’s comments alone are insufficient to gauge the current situation, and that it is monitoring it closely.
It reiterated it is committed to doing “whatever it takes” to reopen negotiations between North Korea and the US.
China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang urged patience and further dialogue between North Korea and the US.
“The peninsula problem can be said to be complicated and long-standing, and it cannot be solved overnight,” Li told an annual news conference on Friday, although his remarks were not made in response to the TASS report.
The second Trump-Kim summit broke down over differences about the US demand 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 the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Choe had said after the Hanoi talks that Kim might lose his commitment to pursue a deal with the US after seeing it reject a request to lift some sanctions in return for the North destroying its main known nuclear complex.
In Washington this week, the US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said the US expected to be able to continue its close engagement, though he offered no specifics on when new talks might be held.
Bolton, who has argued for a tough approach to North Korea, said last week that Trump was open to more talks but also warned of tougher sanctions if the North did not denuclearise.