Pyongyang's senior diplomat tells Russia's Tass news agency that North Korea may rethink ban on missile tests.

North Korea may suspend talks with 'gangster-like' US: Diplomat

March 15, 2019

North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, news reports from the North's capital have quoted a senior diplomat as saying.

Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top US officials for the breakdown of last month's summit in Hanoi between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russia's TASS news agency and The Associated Press said on Friday.

"We have no intention to yield to the US demands [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 the North Korean capital.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton "created the atmosphere of hostility and mistrust and, therefore, obstructed the constructive effort for negotiations between the supreme leaders of North Korea and the United States", Tass quoted Choe as saying.

Kim is set to make an official announcement soon on his position regarding the denuclearisation talks with the US and the North's further actions, it added, citing Choe.

'Gangster-like stand'

Choe said Washington threw away a golden opportunity at the summit and warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, AP news agency reported.

"I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the US will eventually put the situation in danger," AP quoted her as saying.

But she added: "Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful."

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

But South Korea's presidential office has come out to say Choe's comments alone are insufficient to gauge the current situation, and that it is monitoring it closely.

Cheong Wa Dae reiterated it is committed to do "whatever it takes" to reopen negotiations between North Korea and the US. 

China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang urged patience and further dialogue between North Korea and the US.

"The peninsula problem can be said to be complicated and long-standing, and it cannot be solved overnight," Li told an annual news conference on Friday, although his remarks were not made in response to the TASS report.

Failed talks

The second Trump-Kim summit broke down over differences about US demands for Pyongyang to denuclearise and North Korea's demand for dramatic relief from international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile tests, which it pursued for years in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

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.

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

Bolton, who has argued for a tough approach to North Korea, said last week that Trump was open to more talks but also warned of tougher sanctions if the North did not denuclearise.

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