Furious North Korean official says Trump threw away golden opportunity for peace

Leroy Wright
March 16, 2019

"In any situation, our government will endeavor for the restart of North Korea-U.S. negotiations", South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Ms Choe said in Pyongyang that Mr Kim would decide whether to stick to the launch and test moratorium, and she expects him to "clarify his position" soon. But later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton interfered, demanding full denuclearization before any sanctions would be lifted, which the North Koreans found "an absurd sophism".

The US had hoped the summit would demonstrate the success of Trump's diplomatic gamble with North Korea, but instead the meeting ended with no joint agreement, after Kim demanded all US sanctions be lifted on his country.

They also echo comments made by Choe in the aftermath of that meeting, in which she told press that she was unsure "whether (we) should continue talks" and that leader Kim Jong Un is "changing his thought a bit" when it came to negotiations with the U.S. But those meetings broke down after the US demanded a full declaration of North Korea's nuclear inventory up front - a "gangster-like demand", according to the regime.

Like other North Korean diplomatic representatives before her, Choe blasted the US for insisting on complete denuclearization before sanctions relief is granted.

She said that while the personal relationship between Kim and Trump was "still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful", Kim had doubts about continuing negotiations, according to the New York Times. US officials explained that decommissioning Yongbyon would not do enough to irreversibly end North Korea's nuclear missile program, while the concessions North Korea demanded would effectively unravel the sanctions regime.

Kim Joon-hyung, a political scientist at Handong Global University in Pohang, South Korea, tells NPR that Choe's remarks on Friday appear to be a bargaining tactic.

"'On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission [Kim] said, 'For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?" she said.

"And following that we continued to have very professional conversations", Pompeo pointed out. Why call for another summit to offer the same basic deal Trump has offered all along?

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North Korea says Pyongyang has no intention of giving in to Washington's demands and Kim Jong Un would be making a statement soon on the possibility of further talks. "We have every expectation that he will live up to that commitment".

The US says sanctions will remain until Pyongyang destroys all nuclear sites. "That's Chairman Kim's word". He said he had spoken to his South Korean counterpart but wanted to consult with other US officials before responding further.

"What is clear is that the US has thrown away a golden opportunity this time", she said of the failed Hanoi talks.

In Washington this week, USA special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said the United States expected to be able to continue its close engagement, though he offered no specifics on when new talks might be held.

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

Any launch would send the stuttering talks on denuclearisation into disarray, after the Hanoi summit broke up without agreement.

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

The spokeswoman said the ministry had not confirmed why the North Korean officials decided not to attend.

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