North Korea says it is ready for dialogue or confrontation with US

In this photo taken on Feb 27, 2019 US President Donald Trump walks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi.
In this photo taken on Feb 27, 2019 US President Donald Trump walks with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS, AP) - North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on Friday (Aug 23) that Pyongyang was ready for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, and warned Washington that continuing with sanctions would be a miscalculation, according to state media KCNA.

Working-level talks between the US and North Korea have yet to restart since stalling after the failed second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim met again in June at the inter-Korean border and agreed to reopen negotiations, but that has not happened yet.

"If the US is still dreaming of achieving everything with sanctions, we must either let it dream on or shatter that dream," Mr Ri said.

"We are prepared for both dialogue and confrontation. If the US tries to confront us with sanctions and not abandon its confrontational posture, it would be a miscalculation."

Mr Ri also accused US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of casting "dark shadows" over US-North Korea talks, claiming that Mr Pompeo was more interested in his own political ambitions than in current US foreign policy.

He called Mr Pompeo a "poisonous plant of American diplomacy" who hampers efforts to restart nuclear negotiations and that North Korea is ready to "shatter the absurd dream" by the US that sanctions will force a change in Pyongyang.

The remarks on KCNA were prompted by Mr Pompeo's comments in a media interview this week saying that if North Korea doesn't denuclearise, the US will maintain the strongest sanctions in history while convincing North Korea that denuclearisation is the right path, Mr Ri said.

US envoy Stephen Biegun, who leads working-level talks with North Korea, arrived in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss the talks.

 

Denuclearisation talks are expected to be reopened soon, South Korea's deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong said, giving his upbeat assessment after meeting Mr Biegun on Thursday.