North Korea demands Pompeo's removal from U.S. nuclear talks

Saul Bowman
April 20, 2019

There have been fresh reports of new activity at a North Korean missile research center and long-range rocket site where the North is believed to build missiles targeting the United States mainland.

The last meeting between a Russian and North Korean head of state came in 2011, when Mr Kim's father Kim Jong Il travelled by train to Siberia for tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev at a military base.

Pyongyang also claimed to have tested a new kind of weapon with a "powerful warhead".

North Korea said on Thursday it no longer wanted to deal with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that he should be replaced in talks by someone more mature, hours after it announced its first weapons test since nuclear talks broke down.

Russia's foreign policy focus remains on former Soviet states and the Middle East, particularly its backing for the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Mr Asmolov said.

The North Korean statement said Pompeo was "misrepresenting the meaning of our requirement" for the negotiations to be finalized by the year's end, and referred to his "talented skill of fabricating stories".

"President Moon has been clear and simple".

Seoul' presidential office said it had no comment.

The US has accused Moscow, which provides some food aid to North Korea, of helping Pyongyang evade some global sanctions - a charge Moscow denies.

The president said he was forced to "walk away" without a deal because the North demanded the removal of all recent sanctions that the United States believes are vital to persuade the communist state to give up its nuclear weapons.

Earlier in the week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a United States monitor, said activity had been detected at Yongbyon, the North's main nuclear testing facility.

The North Korean foreign ministry official in charge of USA affairs said on Thursday that North Korea no longer wanted to deal with Pompeo and he should be replaced in talks by someone more mature.

"Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the USA, I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo" but another person "who is more careful and mature in communicating with us", the news agency reported.

Kim personally supervised the demonstration conducted by the Academy of Defense Science on Wednesday, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

Joseph Yun, who served as USA special representative for the DPRK until past year, said the country had always been dubious about Pompeo, seeing him as a hardline conservative skeptical of engagement with it.

The North's foreign ministry rejected that assumption, reiterating Kim's deadline.

In testimony to a Senate subcommittee last week, Pompeo, who flew to Pyongyang four times past year, was asked if he would agree with the characterisation of Kim as a "tyrant".

Putin in May past year invited the North Korean leader to visit Russian Federation. But the situation calmed after diplomatic efforts gained momentum a year ago.

"I am ready to closely cooperate with you in order to steadily and constructively develop the traditional friendly relations between the DPRK and Russian Federation as required by the new era and defend peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world", Kim said in a letter, as quoted by KCNA.

Trump has cited the testing moratorium as progress and said he would be disappointed if it resumed.

The report gave no details of the weapon. That rules out tests that go high into the atmosphere, such as a ballistic missile, but does not rule out tests at lower altitudes.

Harry Kazianis works with the Center for the National Interest in Washington.

Worldwide media reported that the summit was set for Russia's far-eastern city of Vladivostok, which lies not far from its short land border with North Korea.

Kwon also said the two leaders were on good terms.

Washington says it won't allow the North's desired sanctions relief until the nation commits to verifiably relinquishing his nuclear facilities, weapons and missiles. The North wants a reciprocal approach that would include rewards for disarmament steps already taken.

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