Pyongyang may freeze talks with the US and renew missile and nuclear tests after senior US officials torpedoed President Trump’s talks with Kim Jong-un in Vietnam, a top North Korean diplomat said.
The Hanoi summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wrapped up ahead of schedule and with no deal, let alone a breakthrough that could move negotiations past the deadlock.
North Korea made its first public assessment of the meeting on Friday, with Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, who took part in the talks, accusing senior figures in the Trump team of overriding the president and bringing “an atmosphere of hostility and mistrust” to the table, AP reported.
The North Korean delegation came to Hanoi with a realistic proposal of the US lifting some economic sanctions as a gesture of recognition of Pyongyang’s 15-month moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile tests, Choe told diplomats and journalists. Trump expressed to Kim that he was willing to show flexibility during a one-on-one meeting. But later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton interfered, demanding full denuclearization before any sanctions would be lifted, which the North Koreans found “an absurd sophism.”
I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the US will eventually put the situation in danger. We have neither the intention to compromise with the US in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.
Choe criticized Trump for claiming at a news conference after the talks fell through that Pyongyang wanted all sanctions to be lifted – a claim that the US State Department later admitted was not accurate. “What is clear is that the US has thrown away a golden opportunity this time,” she said. “I’m not sure why the US came out with this different description. We never asked for the removal of sanctions in their entirety.”
She added that after the summit, Kim Jong-un questioned whether it makes sense to hold a new one. The North Korean leader will now decide whether he would agree to more talks with Donald Trump and whether to maintain the moratorium on tests, the diplomat said. An official statement on the issue will come soon.
The tone of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, highlighting the lack of progress in the implementation of the denuclearization issue, is in stark contrast to the far more optimistic rhetoric from the US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun.
The US envoy said on Monday that diplomacy with Pyongyang “is still very much alive,” and expressed hope that Washington would be able to maintain “close engagement” with North Korea despite the recent summit setback. He, however, offered no details on whether a new round of talks is being planned.