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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea’s expectations for nuclear talks with the U.S. have been “fading,” a senior official with the country’s foreign ministry said in a press statement on Saturday.
Choe Son Hui, first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, issued a press statement in response to a speech delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday at the 101st American Legion National Convention.
Pompeo said at the event that the Trump administration “recognized that North Korea’s rogue behavior could not be ignored.”
In response, Choe said on Saturday that Pompeo had “provoked us once again by making an irrational remark,” according to the Korean-language statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“The act of Pompeo severely insulting us and even labeling us [as conducting] ‘rogue behavior’ is a slip of the tongue that they will definitely regret,” Choe said.
Pompeo’s statement “oversteps the bounds and makes it more difficult to open the scheduled DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations.”
The North Korean first vice foreign minister said Tuesday’s speech resulted in “amplifying our people’s bad feelings toward Americans more and more.”
“Our expectations for dialogue with the U.S. have been fading gradually, and it (the U.S.) has been pushing us to the situation where we are compelled to review all the measures that we have taken until now,” she said.
“The U.S. had better not try to test our patience any longer with remarks that irritate us if it does not want to make horrendous regrets [afterward].”
Choe said the U.S. superior authorities made a “series of serious comments provoking” the North, adding the country will keep close watch on the intention of Pompeo’s remarks.
“We are very curious about the background surrounding the U.S. head of foreign affairs making such imprudent remarks and we will keep an eye on what the calculation is.”
Saturday’s statement notably comes less than half a day after the U.S. Treasury Department on Friday issued new designations against Taiwanese nationals and companies as well as one oil tanker for breaching UN resolutions.
Choe’s criticism also comes around one week after North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho responded to an interview Pompeo conducted with the Washington Examiner in his rare statement conveyed by KCNA.
The U.S. Secretary of State on August 21 said that the U.S. would “continue to keep on the sanctions that are the toughest in all of history” should North Korean leader Kim Jong Un not make good on his commitment to denuclearize.
In the statement, Ri denounced Pompeo with insults and said he disturbed the DPRK-U.S. negotiations, describing him as “the poisonous herb of U.S diplomacy.”
Choe Son Hui earlier in April also slammed Pompeo’s suggestion that the U.S. could “change paths” if their expectations in negotiations are not met as “stupid and dangerous.”
Since the no-deal second DPRK-U.S. summit in Hanoi in February, the DPRK foreign ministry has expressed its negative view and skepticism of Pompeo openly through state media channels on numerous occasions.
Director-general of the foreign ministry’s Department of American Affairs Kwon Jong Gun in April requested the U.S. change the dialogue counterpart to someone who is “more careful and mature in communication with us” than Pompeo.
June saw Kwon also say the DPRK-U.S. negotiations can only be resumed when “someone with a good sense of communication” from the U.S. side engages with them.
In spite of recent U.S. overtures, the resumption of working-level negotiations has been delayed since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed in their Panmunjom meeting on June 30 to restart talks in just a matter of weeks.
Urging the resumption of dialogue, Pompeo on Tuesday reiterated that the North Korean people will face a “brighter future” when they “get rid of their nuclear weapons and … denuclearize.”
“I hope that Chairman Kim will work with – put his team in the field to work with my team and deliver a good, solid outcome for the American people,” he said in an interview with ABC WRTV.
On the occasion of the recent ROK-U.S. joint military exercises, however, the DPRK has ratcheted up its rhetoric emphasizing the issue of its national security.
Edited by Colin Zwirko
Featured image: U.S. State Department