PYONGYANG: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will soon make a decision on whether to continue diplomatic talks and maintain the country’s moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, a senior North Korean official said, noting the United States threw away a golden opportunity at the recent summit between their leaders.
Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, addressing an urgent meeting yesterday of diplomats and foreign media in Pyongyang, said the North was deeply disappointed by the failure of the two sides to reach any agreements at the Hanoi summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.
She said Pyongyang now has no intention of compromising or continuing talks unless the United States takes measures that are commensurate to the changes it has taken – such as the 15-month moratorium on launches and tests – and changes its “political calculation”.
Choe, who attended the Feb 27-28 talks in Hanoi, said Kim was puzzled by what she called the “eccentric” negotiation position of the United States.
She suggested that while Trump was more willing to talk, the US position was hardened by the uncompromising demands of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
“Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful,” she added.
She said it was entirely up to Kim whether to continue the launch and test moratorium, and said she expects he will “clarify his position” within a short period of time.
Choe questioned the claim by Trump at a news conference after the talks in Hanoi broke down that the North was seeking the lifting of all sanctions against it, and said it was seeking only the ones that are directed at its civilian economy.
After the summit had ended, State Department officials clarified that was indeed the North’s position, but said the lifting of economic sanctions was such a big demand that it would essentially subsidise the North’s continued nuclear activity.
Choe said it was the United States that was being too demanding and inflexible.
She refused to comment directly when asked by one of the ambassadors about news reports the North may be preparing for another missile launch or satellite launch.
“Whether to maintain this moratorium or not is the decision of our chairman of the state affairs commission,” she said, using one of Kim’s titles.
“He will make his decision in a short period of time.”
Journalists were not allowed to ask questions during the briefing, which lasted nearly an hour. — AP
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