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Friday, March 15, 2019, 18:05
Diplomat: DPRK may suspend nuclear talks with US
By Reuters
Friday, March 15, 2019, 18:05 By Reuters

This March 15, 2019 photo shows the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, center, at a gathering for diplomats in Pyongyang. (ERIC TALMADGE / AP)

SEOUL — The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) 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 DPRK's capital on Friday quoted a senior diplomat as saying.

US 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 DPRK's vice-foreign minister as saying

Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui blamed top US officials for the breakdown of last month's summit in Hanoi between US.

US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, Russia's TASS news agency and the Associated Press said.

"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 DPRK's capital.

US 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.

The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea.

Kim is set to make an official announcement soon on his position regarding the denuclearization talks with the United States and DPRK'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.

ALSO READ: Trump 'will be disappointed' if DPRK rebuilds rocket site

I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the US will eventually put the situation in danger.

Choe Son-hui, Vice-foreign minister, DPRK

"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.”

The Republic of Korea (ROK), which has an ambitious agenda of engagement with the DPRK 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-US negotiations," ROK's presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Choe's comments echoed DPRK's usual rhetoric at tense points in its dealings with Washington. DPRK expert Joshua Pollack said the DPRK 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.

'NO OVERNIGHT SOLUTION'

The second Trump-Kim summit broke down over differences about US demands for Pyongyang to denuclearize and DPRK's demand for relief from international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile tests, which it pursued for years in defiance of UN 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 rejected a request to lift some sanctions in return for the DPRK destroying its main known nuclear complex.

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

Choe Son-hui, Vice-foreign minister, DPRK

READ MORE: ROK to seek talks with DPRK to facilitate US-DPRK dialogue

In Washington this week, the US special representative for DPRK, Stephen Biegun, said the United States expected to be able to continue its close engagement, though he offered no specifics on when new talks might be held.

"Diplomacy is still very much alive," Biegun said on Monday, but stopped short of saying if there had been any talks since the summit.

Bolton, who has argued for a tough approach to the DPRK, said last week that Trump was open to more talks but also warned of tougher sanctions if the DPRK did not denuclearize.

In Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged patience and further dialogue between the DPRK 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.

ROK's won fell to its weakest intraday level in four months soon after the report, whereas the stockmarket's KOSPI was muted in its reaction.

ROK and Japanese defense-related shares surged following the reports.

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