North Korea calls Mike Pompeo 'poisonous' to diplomacy

Situation threatens to dim the possible resumption of nuclear negotiations between the countries

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho (R) with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has called his American counterpart, Mike Pompeo, a "poisonous plant of American diplomacy", vowing to "shutter the absurd dream" that US sanctions will force a change in Pyongyang.

Ri also accused Pompeo on Friday of casting "dark shadows" over the US-North Korea talks, claiming that the US diplomat was more interested in his own political ambitions than in current US foreign policy. Ri's comments were made in reponse to Pompeo's remarks in an interview, in which he said Washington will maintain crippling sanctions on North Korea unless it denuclearises. In that regard, Ri continued that he could not just let the "reckless remarks" by Pompeo pass by him because they came amid a possible restart of the nuclear talks.

Now the North's blistering rhetoric threatened to dim the possible resumption of nuclear negotiations between the countries. On Thursday, a North Korean spokesman had said that Pyongyang has "no interest" in dialogue unless Washington stops "escalating hostile military moves". But South Korean deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong indicated that he remained upbeat about the possibility of talks.

"My impression was that North Korea and the United States would carry out dialogue soon, and it would go well," Kim told reporters in Seoul on Thursday. 

Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have stalled since the second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February collapsed without an agreement. The pair met again in June in the Demilitarised Zone and agreed to restart working-level dialogue, but those talks have yet to begin.

In the meantime, North Korea has carried out several short-range missile tests in recent weeks in protest against annual US-South Korea joint military drills that it sees as a rehearsal for an attack.

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