North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said Friday the regime is ready for both dialogue and confrontation with the US, criticizing Washington for using sanctions as leverage in denuclearization talks.
In a statement via the state-run Korean Central News Agency, Ri condemned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for invoking sanctions imposed on the North in a recent interview with Washington Examiner.
“The US is miscalculating if it is trying to not lose (the) confrontational stance against us and confront us with sanctions,” Ri said.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho (Yonhap)
“Then, we would remain the biggest threat to the US for a long time and make it realize what it has to do for the sake of denuclearization once and for all,” he added. “We are ready both for confrontation and dialogue.”
Calling Pompeo “a disrupter” in negotiations between North Korea and the US, Ri said that he lacks rational thinking and judgment in invoking international restrictions against the regime.
During the interview, Pompeo said he remained hopeful that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is committed to giving up nuclear weapons but warned of consequences if he doesn’t.
“But in the event that he doesn’t, we’ll continue to keep on the sanctions that are the toughest in all of history and continue to work towards convincing Chairman Kim and the North Korean leaders that the right thing to do is for them to denuclearize,” he said.
Ri’s harsh criticism came on the day US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun headed home from South Korea.
Biegun, who arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, said the US is ready to hold working-level talks with North Korea as soon as he hears from his counterparts, though he apparently failed to meet them during the four-day visit.
A working-level meeting was initially expected to take place in July after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim agreed during a meeting at Panmunjom on June 30 that they would hold one within weeks.
In response to the North’s statement, the South Korean government said Friday it hopes that Washington and Pyongyang will come up with a positive negotiation outcome based on mutual trust and respect.
In recent weeks, North Korea has ramped up its rhetoric and conducted missile tests in protest of joint South Korea-US military exercises, which ended Tuesday.
By Park Han-na (firstname.lastname@example.org)