Pyongyang set to break off denuclearization talks with Washington - diplomat

Lester Mason
March 15, 2019

Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top USA officials for the breakdown of last month's summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and Kim, Russia's Tass news agency reported.

"We have no intention to yield to the USA demands in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind", TASS cited Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as saying.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that North Korea is keeping open the possibility of continued talks after Pyongyang's deputy foreign minister said they might walk from negotiations, criticizing the top U.S. diplomat and national security adviser John Bolton for creating "an atmosphere of hostility".

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, the senior North Korean official said, noting the USA threw away a golden opportunity at the recent summit between their leaders. An official statement on the issue will come soon.

Choe also said Washington threw away a golden opportunity at the summit and warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches, the Associated Press news agency added. "I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the US will eventually put the situation in danger".

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

Choe said it was the USA that was being too demanding and inflexible and called the demand that denuclearization come before sanctions are eased "an absurd sophism". "(We) can't assess the current situation only with Vice Foreign Minister Choe's remarks", Cheong Wa Dae said. We are watching the situation closely.

While Pompeo said Friday morning that the administration wishes to continue talks with North Korea, Choe's comments fueled mounting concerns that Trump and Kim may not return to the negotiating table anytime soon and followed speculation immediately after the summit that Bolton played a key role in the breakdown.

Choe's comments echoed the North's usual rhetoric at tense points in its dealings with Washington.

Many experts see signs of a hardening of the US stance post-Hanoi, with Bolton taking a leading role in the media ruling out any sanctions relief until North Korea fully denuclearizes and even threatening to ramp up sanctions. "It is likely to gauge the USA reaction in the days ahead before making a decision to launch a rocket", he said.

Moon Chung-in, South Korea's special presidential adviser for foreign affairs and national security, said if Pyongyang tries to use the reported missile activities as leverage in stalled nuclear talks, it would constitute a "bad move" that could be catastrophic.

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.

Talks in Hanoi collapsed when Mr Trump refused to lift any sanctions until North Korea was completely denuclearised.

In Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang urged patience and more dialogue between North Korea and the United States.

Earlier, Ms Choe said United States diplomats had thrown away "a golden opportunity" during the summit when North Korea offered to dismantle its main Yongbyon nuclear complex.

At the State Department on Monday, Pompeo said that the North Korean offer in Hanoi "simply didn't rise to the level that was acceptable given what they were asking for in exchange".

South Korean and Japanese defense-related shares surged following the reports.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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