U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said he will continue to lead DPRK negotiations, following calls from Pyongyang for him to be dropped from the negotiating team.
Speaking ahead of a Security Consultative Committee with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya in Washington, Pompeo said “nothing had changed” with regards Washington’s diplomatic stance.
“We will continue to work, continue to negotiate. I’m still in charge of the team,” Pompeo told assembled reporters.
“President Trump’s obviously in charge of the overall effort, but it’ll be my team. Special Representative Biegun will continue to lead the U.S. efforts to achieve what Chairman Kim committed to.”
The U.S. Secretary of State was responding to criticism from North Korea’s director general of the foreign ministry’s Department of American Affairs Kwon Jong Gun published via DPRK state media on Thursday.
“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” he said, according to an English-language version of a Korean Central News Agency (KNCA) report.
“Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the U.S., I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but other person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”
Kwon also placed the blame for the failure of the Hanoi summit on the U.S. Secretary of State, saying that “whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, the talks go wrong without any results even from the point close to success.”
According to the NK News KCNA Watch data tool, North Korea media’s English output first began mentioning Pompeo in 2017.
North Korea’s coverage of Pompeo is typically not positive, though in June last year North Korean media encouraged him to ignore a “political scramble” in Washington.
“Secretary of State Pompeo should not be forced to meet a ‘miserable destiny’ but resolutely smash the opposition’s unreasonable and foolish assertions with his own view and courage and display his wisdom and bargaining power in negotiation as the chief of the U.S. diplomacy both in name and reality in order to realize the president’s will,” an article published in numerous DPRK outlets reads.
But Pompeo’s comments on Friday also follow a North Korean weapon strategic weapon test announced on Wednesday and confirmed by Washington the following day.
Although the DPRK did not test a ballistic weapon system, some experts indicated the announcement could be a signal of displeasure at the current stalemate in negotiations.
Featured image: State Department