Kim may suspend talks with ‘gangster-like’ U.S., N. Korea warns

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SEOUL, South Korea – Kim Jong Un is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, a senior North Korean diplomat was quoted as saying Friday.

Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top U.S. officials for the breakdown of last month’s summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and Kim, Russia’s Tass news agency reported.

“We have no intention to yield to the U.S. 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.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser 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 on the denuclearization talks with the U.S. and the North’s further actions, it added.

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, the Associated Press reported.

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

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

South Korea, which has an ambitious agenda of engagement with North Korea that is dependent on Pyongyang and Washington resolving at least some of their differences, said it was too early to tell what Choe’s comments might mean.

“We cannot judge the current situation based solely on Vice Minister Choe Son Hui’s statements,” South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statemen. “We are watching the situation closely.”

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

The second Trump-Kim summit broke down over differences about U.S. 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 U.N. 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.

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 denuclearize.