Top North Korea Diplomat Says Pompeo Undermining Talks With U.S.

Jihye Lee
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Top North Korea Diplomat Says Pompeo Undermining Talks With U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- North Korea’s top diplomat blamed Michael Pompeo for stalled nuclear talks with the U.S., saying the secretary of state “casts a dark shadow” over the negotiations.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said Pompeo “lacks logical thinking and rational judgement” and was more focused on his own political aspirations than getting a result, according to a report Friday by the official Korean Central News Agency. The U.S. side was “miscalculating” by relying on “confrontational sanctions,” Ri said, adding, without elaborating, that North Korea would “make the U.S. realize what they must do for denuclearization.”

The statement is the latest in a series from North Korea seeking a more favorable negotiating framework before Kim Jong Un restarts nuclear talks with the U.S. The remarks come a day after U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said in Seoul that he was “ready to engage” as soon as he hears back from Pyongyang.

While Pompeo has been a repeated target of North Korean criticism -- with the regime demanding his removal from talks in April -- the personal attack from Ri represented an escalation. Still, North Korea has been careful not to criticize President Donald Trump, who often cites his personal relationship with Kim as central to future talks.

On Tuesday, Pompeo urged Kim to return to the negotiating table, saying that it would “be better for the North Korean people” and the world.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at jlee2352@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Niluksi Koswanage at nkoswanage@bloomberg.net, Brendan Scott, Karen Leigh

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