SEOUL: North Korea on Thursday demanded the removal of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from talks over its banned nuclear programme, hours after the isolated state claimed to have tested a new kind of weapon.
Describing Pompeo as “reckless” and immature, the foreign ministry said it wanted him replaced by another interlocutor, a demand that significantly ups the ante in a sensitive diplomatic standoff, reports AFP.Pyongyang and Washington have been at loggerheads since the collapse of a summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump earlier this year. “I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the ministry’s Department of American Affairs said, according to the official KCNA news agency.
“Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the US, I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but... (another) person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”
It is not the first time North Korea has singled out Pompeo for special criticism. When the secretary of state met with North Korean officials in Pyongyang in July last year, he was condemned for his “gangster-like” insistence that the North move towards unilateral disarmament.
Kwon, whom KCNA said was responding to a question from one of its journalists, said leader Kim had made clear that the US attitude has to change.
He said Pompeo was standing in the way of a resumption of talks. “We cannot be aware of Pompeo’s ulterior motive behind his self-indulgence in reckless remarks; whether he is indeed unable to understand words properly or just pretending on purpose.