North Korea’s foreign minister on Friday called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “poisonous plant of American diplomacy” who hampers efforts to restart nuclear negotiations.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho made the insult to protest Pompeo’s comments in a media interview that Washington will maintain crippling sanctions on North Korea unless it denuclearizes.
Ri said North Korea is ready to “shatter the absurd dream” by the United States that sanctions will force a change in North Korea. He said North Korea will try to remain “America’s biggest threat” if the United States continues to confront the North with sanctions.
Ri likely referred to comments by Pompeo during an interview with the Washington Examiner earlier this week. During the interview, Pompeo said that the US will “continue to keep on the sanctions that are the toughest in all of history and continue to work towards convincing Chairman Kim (Jong Un) and the North Korean leaders that the right thing to do is for them to denuclearize.”
Earlier this week, the top US envoy on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said Washington is ready to resume nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. Biegun was speaking a day after the US and South Korean militaries ended their regular drills that North Korea calls an invasion rehearsal.
US-led diplomacy on North Korea’s nuclear weapons collapsed after President Donald Trump rejected Kim’s demand for widespread sanctions relief in return for partial disarmament steps during their second summit in Vietnam in February. The two countries haven’t met publicly since then.