N Korea warns to cut off US talks over curbs

Foreign Desk Report

SEOUL: North Korea on Monday slammed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for urging the international community to maintain sanctions on the regime, warning it could cut off dialogue with the United States.
Pompeo last week told nations to “stay committed to applying diplomatic and economic pressure” over the North´s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes while calling on the nuclear-armed state to return to talks. A string of weapons drills by Pyongyang has come during a prolonged hiatus in disarmament talks with the United States and despite recent overtures from Washington offering help to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released by the North´s official Korean Central News Agency, an unnamed official in charge of negotiations with the US called Pompeo´s remarks “ludicrous”.
“Listening to Pompeo´s ludicrous language made us give up on any hopes for dialogue,” the official said, adding: “We will walk our way.”
The American diplomat had “unleashed insult at a country with which his president was willing to forge a good relationship”, the official continued, referring to Donald Trump´s letter sent to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing an intent to cooperate in anti-epidemic efforts.
“It is puzzling who the real commander in chief is in the US,” the official said. The criticism came after the North said it had successfully tested “super-large multiple rocket launchers” on Sunday.
Analysts say the North continues to refine its weapons capabilities more than a year after a summit between Kim and Trump broke down in Vietnam.
Negotiations have since been deadlocked over sanctions relief and what the North would be willing to give up in return. North Korea is under multiple sets of sanctions from the United Nations, United States and others over its banned weapons programmes.
North Korea said the United States will not drop its hostile policy even though their two leaders have a “special relationship”, state media KCNA said on Monday. A North Korean official said in the statement U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was undermining North Korea’s willingness to return to dialogue, criticizing his recent remarks on sanctions on North Korea.
Pompeo had said after a teleconference with G7 foreign ministers last week that all nations must remain united in calling for North Korea to return to negotiations and applying diplomatic and economic pressure over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“The world would not know why the U.S.-North Korea relations continue to get tangled up, despite the special relationship between the leaders of North Korea and United States,” KCNA said.
North Korea said on March 22 it welcomed a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a sign of “the special and very firm personal relations” between the two leaders despite recent frictions. KCNA said the U.S. president had written in the letter he was impressed by the North Korean leader’s efforts to defend his people from the coronavirus. KCNA said earlier on Monday that North Korea’s latest test of super-large multiple rocket launchers a day earlier had been a success.
North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Sunday, the latest in a flurry of launches that South Korea decried as “inappropriate” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
KCNA said the launch was aimed at examining the strategic and technical features of the launchers, which has been tested multiple times since last August overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, ahead of deployment.