Friday, 22 March, 2019

Pompeo 'hopeful' North Korea talks can continue

National Security Advisor of the United States John Bolton National Security Advisor of the United States John Bolton. Win McNamee Getty Images
Jeannette Daniel | 15 March, 2019, 20:23

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters and foreign diplomats on Friday that Kim will soon make a decision on whether to continue talks with Trump, but said the regime has no intention of compromising or even continuing conversations unless the us makes concessions.

"We have no intention to yield to the USA demands [made 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 Pyongyang.

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 USA diplomat and national security adviser John Bolton for creating "an atmosphere of hostility".

Choe's remarks, in which she described the United States stand as "gangster-like", seem to point to a change in North Korea's strategy following the talks, with both Pyongyang and Washington initially voicing a readiness to continue on with negotiations.

Earlier this week, Moon Chung-in, South Korean Special Adviser to the President for Foreign Affairs and National Security, told reporters that increasing sanctions wasn't an appropriate course of action if North Korea didn't denuclearize.

Even so, she said personal relations between the two leaders are still good "and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful".

"President Trump has said for some time that he was open to talks and he would willingly meet with Kim when conditions were right".

According to Choe, the decision will be included in an official statement from Kim concerning the direction North Korea plans to take in the wake of the Hanoi summit.

His comments follow a suggestion by North Korean-Vice Foreign Minister Choe Sun-hui that denuclearisation talks might end and testing could resume. "It's the administration's desire that we continue to have conversations around this". "The government will put every effort to resume the North Korean - U.S. talks". Pyongyang announced that Kim Jong-un will shortly decide whether he intends to continue his moratorium on missile and nuclear tests after the failure of the Hanoi summit to make progress toward resolving the standoff on the Korean peninsula. "They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that", Mr Trump told reporters.

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"And I think in the president's judgment that time has arrived now", he said.

Trump has pointed to North Korea's freeze in nuclear and missile testing since 2017 as a positive outcome from almost a year of diplomatic engagement with North Korea.

A senior official said Trump "is not prepared to reward North Korea in exchange for talks".

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

An official statement on the issue will come soon.

After the two leaders failed to secure a deal in Hanoi, and with economic sanctions still in place, North Korea might be trying to hurry the USA president along and get him back to the table with a better deal. "It is likely to gauge the US reaction in the days ahead before making a decision to launch a rocket", he said.

Choe had said after the Hanoi talks that Kim might lose his commitment to pursue a deal with the United States after seeing it reject a request to lift some sanctions in return for the North destroying its main known nuclear complex.

On Monday, the USA special representative for North Korea said Washington would not accept a phased denuclearization by Pyongyang and maintained that the two nations remain closely engaged despite the collapse of the Hanoi summit.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, center, speaks at a gathering for diplomats in Pyongyang, North Korea, March 15, 2019.

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