North Korean official says Kim rethinking USA talks, launch moratorium

Lamar Ellis
March 16, 2019

Choe, who attended the February 27-28 talks in Hanoi, said Kim was puzzled by what she called the "eccentric" negotiation position of the U.S. She said Washington had thrown away a golden opportunity at the summit and warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, AP reported.

Washington has said it is closely watching activity at a North Korean rocket site that US think tanks have said could be preparations for a new launch.

"Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good, and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful", she said, while accusing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton of creating an atmosphere of "hostility and mistrust".

After the breakdown, critics called the meeting-which was the second time Trump and Kim met face-to-face-a "missed opportunity" to end the decades-long Korean war and pave a path for peace on the peninsula. -North Korea negotiations over the nuclear issue, following the surprise no-deal conclusion of last month's summit in Hanoi.

Like other North Korean diplomatic representatives before her, Choe blasted the US for insisting on complete denuclearization before sanctions relief is granted. Earlier, North Korean media said that although the summit produced no tangible result, the leaders agreed to continue their dialogue.

Earlier, Ms Choe said United States diplomats had thrown away "a golden opportunity" during the summit when North Korea offered to dismantle its main Yongbyon nuclear complex.

"It's the administration's desire that we continue to have conversations around this", Pompeo said.

Bolton told reporters that Choe's description of the negotiation break down was inaccurate and that he had been in contact with officials in South Korea.

"In Hanoi, on multiple occasions, he spoke directly to the president and made a commitment that he would not resume nuclear testing nor would he resume missile testing", Pompeo said. And following that, we continued to have very professional conversations, where we tried our best to work together and represent our respective sides.

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She added that after the summit, Kim Jong-un questioned whether it makes sense to hold a new one. 'I'm not sure why the USA came out with this different description. "I have every expectation we will be able to continue to do that". "So that's Chairman Kim's word".

South Korea's presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, responded cautiously to the reports of Choe's comments.

Pompeo said the USA expects Kim to live up to his promise to Trump to maintain the moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests. "We'll look at ramping those sanctions up in fact", Bolton said.

"I don't think that really falls in the line of the way that the North Koreans approach things".

"What is clear is that the USA has thrown away a golden opportunity this time", she said.

"We should not concede to North Korea's threats", he stressed.

Talks in Hanoi collapsed when Mr Trump refused to lift any sanctions until North Korea was completely denuclearised.

The tone of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, highlighting the lack of progress in the implementation of the denuclearization issue, is in stark contrast to the far more optimistic rhetoric from the USA special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun.

At the State Department on Monday, Pompeo said that the North Korean offer in Hanoi "simply didn't rise to the level that was acceptable given what they were asking for in exchange".

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