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North Korea calls Bolton ‘dim-sighted’ over demand

North Korea calls Bolton ‘dim-sighted’ over demand
World
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—North Korea dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, as “dim-sighted” Saturday, after he said the North would have to show more evidence that it was ready to give up nuclear weapons before Trump would hold another meeting with its leader, Kim Jong Un.

It was the latest signal of impatience from North Korea, which has grown increasingly strident since the second summit between Kim and Trump, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, ended abruptly without a deal. The breakdown of the meeting was considered a huge embarrassment for Kim, who had to return home empty-handed, without badly needed relief from sanctions.

In an interview with the Bloomberg News agency Wednesday, Bolton said a third summit would be possible only after “a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”

Speaking to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui called Bolton’s remark “nonsense.”

“He looks dim-sighted to me,” Choe said. “I warn you that it would do yourself no good if you continue to throw away such remarks devoid of discretion and reason.”

In Hanoi, Kim offered a partial end to the North’s nuclear weapons program — dismantling the Yongbyon complex where it produces fuel for bombs, but not the weapons themselves — in exchange for the end of Washington’s most biting sanctions, such as a ban on coal and other key North Korean exports.

Trump, however, wanted a “big deal” in which North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons and Washington would lift sanctions.

Earlier this month, Kim said he would consider meeting Trump again, but only if Washington offered a new proposal that he could accept by the end of the year. On Wednesday, he attended the test of what his country called “a new-type tactical guided weapon,” signalling that his regime was getting frustrated with Washington’s all-or-nothing approach and might return to more provocative weapons tests of the kind seen in 2017.

On Thursday, Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Department of American Affairs of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, accused U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of possessing a “mean character” and blocking progress in talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Kwon blamed Pompeo for the collapse of the Hanoi talks and suggested that even if high-level dialogue resumed, Pompeo should yield his place as chief negotiator to someone “more careful and mature in communicating with us.”

“Nothing’s changed,” Pompeo said Friday, when asked about the North Korean demand. “I’m still in charge of the team.”

Both Kwon and Choe refrained from criticizing Trump and instead emphasized that Kim remained on good terms with him. North Korean officials appeared to believe that the unusual chemistry between the two leaders — Trump once said he and Kim were “in love” — could help the North get a better deal if talks resumed.

But top U.S. officials, like Bolton and Pompeo, insist that Washington should settle for nothing less than a full dismantling of the North’s entire arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their production facilities, before it lifts sanctions.
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