North Korea Wants Pompeo Out to Kickstart Negotiations

Published April 18th, 2019 - 10:15 GMT
 U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AFP)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AFP)
“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” Kwon said.

North Korea suggests that it wants US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disengaged from stalled negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington, blaming the top American diplomat for the derailment of bilateral talks.

In a statement run by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday, Kwon Jong-gun, a North Korean Foreign Ministry official, criticized Pompeo for “fabricating stories like a fiction writer.”

“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” Kwon said.

He also blamed Pompeo for the collapse of the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February, saying the summit “gives us a lesson that whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, the talks go wrong without any results.”

“Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialog with the US, I wish our dialog counterpart would be not Pompeo but [an]other person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us,” Kwon added.

Kwon cited Pompeo’s remarks at an event in Texas this week when the US official said that the North Korean leader had promised Trump to denuclearize and that “our teams are working with the North Koreans to chart a path forward so that we can get there… by the end of the year.” The North Korean official said Pompeo had uttered “nonsense” by suggesting that working-level negotiations between the countries would be finished by year’s end.

Trump himself had previously said that he would impose no deadline on negotiations with North Korea.

“We cannot be aware of Pompeo’s ulterior motive behind his self-indulgence in reckless remarks... whether he is indeed unable to understand words properly or just pretending on purpose. However, it is a very dangerous situation if he really did not grasp the meaning,” Kwon said.

Diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington has effectively stopped since the failed Hanoi summit. And North Korea may stop negotiating with America altogether.

Hours before the broadside against Pompeo came out, the KCNA reported that Kim had overseen and directed a “new tactical guided weapons firing test.” Also, while Trump has said he is considering a potential third summit with Kim, the North’s leader has said he has no interest in a third summit if it is going to be a repeat of Hanoi.

There was no immediate reaction from the US to the statement by the North Korean Foreign Ministry official. But Washington is unlikely to remove its top diplomat from negotiations with Pyongyang. Pompeo is said to be President Trump’s point man on North Korea, reportedly even sidelining US National Security Adviser John Bolton — who is more hawkish on Pyongyang — when discussing North Korea-related matters with the US president.

This article has been adapted from its original source.    

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