SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Thursday that it would reconsider holding a summit meeting between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump, singling out Vice President Mike Pence for remarks that a top official called “ignorant and stupid.”
In a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, the country’s vice foreign minister Choe Son-hui, a longtime nuclear negotiator, referred to “unlawful and outrageous acts” by top American officials and said that Mr. Pence had made “unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya.”
“As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president,” Ms. Choe said. “In case the U.S. offends against our good will and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the D.P.R.K.-U.S. summit.”
D.P.R.K. is the abbreviation of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Ms. Choe’s comment was the second time in a week that North Korea had threatened to withdraw from Mr. Kim’s planned summit meeting with Mr. Trump, which is slated for June 12 in Singapore.
North Korea threw the meeting into doubt last week when Kim Kye-gwan, another vice foreign minister of North Korea, warned that his country could call off the landmark encounter if the United States insisted on “unilateral” abandonment of its nuclear program. The official rejected the Trump administration’s demand that it quickly dismantle its nuclear program as Libya did 15 years ago, singling out John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser, for condemnation.
[Read why North Korea has been angered by talk of a “Libya model” in nuclear discussions]
“If the United States is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the North Korea-U.S. summit,” Vice Minister Kim said at the time.
In her statement on Thursday, Ms. Choe accused Mr. Pence, another North Korea hard-liner in the Trump administration, of promoting a “military option” on North Korea and also pushing for a quick and unilateral nuclear disarmament of the country.
In an interview broadcast on Monday on Fox News, Mr. Pence warned that North Korea’s government could end up like that of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan leader.
“You know, as the president made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal,” Mr. Pence said.
When it was noted that the comparison could be interpreted as a threat, Mr. Pence replied, “Well, I think it’s more of a fact.”
Speaking on “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said of the prospect of a meeting: “We have certain conditions. We’ll see what happens. But there’s a good chance. I mean, it’d be a great thing for North Korea. If that happens, it would be a great thing for North Korea. Listen, it would be a great thing for the world, so we’ll see what happens.”
A White House spokesman declined to immediately comment on the latest remarks from Pyongyang.
In her statement on Thursday, Ms. Choe said, “Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”
Michael D. Shear contributed reporting from Washington.
Source : Nytimes