SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A senior North Korean diplomat on Tuesday accused U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of making “foolish and dangerous” comments, after Pompeo said Washington will have to “change paths” if nuclear negotiations with North Korea break down.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as saying that Pompeo’s comments implied a potential use of military measures to break up North Korea’s political system.
A February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump collapsed over mismatched demands in sanctions relief and nuclear disarmament.
Choe said North Korea also has the option of changing directions and that Washington may face an “outcome it truly did not want” if it fails to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement by the year’s end, a deadline set by Kim earlier this month during a speech to North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament.
North Korea also demanded that the Trump administration remove Pompeo from the nuclear negotiations, accusing him of downplaying the significance of Kim’s comments that the United States has until the end of the year to salvage the nuclear talks.
Pompeo made his comments last week in an interview with CBS television in which he said ongoing nuclear talks with North Korea would be “bumpy” and “challenging,” while expressing confidence about ultimately brokering a path to full denuclearization.
He said Trump had not assigned a timeline for the duration of the talks, and that they would continue as long as “good-faith negotiations” and “real conversations” were taking place.
“And if that breaks down, if that doesn’t happen, then we’ll have to, obviously, change paths,” Pompeo said.