N Korea demands Pompeo’s removal from nuclear talks

N Korea thinks talks could go wrong “whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in”.

SEOUL (TIP): North Korea said on Thursday, April 18, it no longer wanted to
deal with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said he should be replaced in
talks by someone more mature, hours after it announced its first weapons test since
nuclear talks broke down.

The North’s official KCNA news agency quoted senior foreign ministry official
Kwon Jong Gun as warning that no one could predict the situation on the Korean
peninsula if the United States did not abandon the “root cause” that compelled
North Korea to develop nuclear weapons.

The statement came shortly after North Korea announced that leader Kim Jong Un
had overseen the testing of a new tactical guided weapon, which KCNA said has a
“peculiar mode of guiding flight” and “a powerful warhead”.

It was the North’s first weapon test since talks in Vietnam between Kim and US
President Donald Trump in late February broke down over conflicting demands by
North Korea for sanctions relief and by the United States for North Korea to
abandon its nuclear program.

KCNA gave no details on the weapon that was tested on Wednesday but “tactical”
implied a short-range weapon rather than the long-range ballistic missiles that have
been seen as a threat to the United States.

KCNA quoted Kwon, who is in charge of US affairs, as saying the Vietnam
summit, the second between the two leaders, showed that talks could go wrong
“whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in”.

“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.

“Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the United
States, I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but other person who
is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”

While Kwon did not elaborate on why North Korea felt compelled to develop
nuclear weapons, it has long spoken of the need to defend itself from what it sees
as US aggression.

Kim said last week said the breakdown in talks risked reviving tensions and he
gave a year-end deadline for the United States to change its attitude.

Despite the failure of the Vietnam summit, Trump has stressed his good
relationship with Kim.

Kwon also said the two leaders were on good terms, even as he castigated Pompeo
for “fabricated” stories as part of a “publicity stunt”. He did not elaborate.

Kwon said Pompeo had made “reckless remarks hurting the dignity of our supreme
leadership”, apparently referring to him agreeing to the characterization of Kim as
a “tyrant” at a US Congressional hearing last week.
(Source: Agencies)

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