North Korea official: Kim rethinking U.S. talks, launch moratorium

North Korea may suspend talks with 'gangster-like' US rethink nuclear test freeze

Pyongyang set to break off denuclearization talks with Washington — diplomat

FILE PHOTO: Residents hold US and North Korean flags while they wait for motorcade of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un en route to the Metropole Hotel for the second US- North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019.

Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, addressing an urgent meeting Friday of diplomats and foreign media in Pyongyang, said the North was deeply disappointed by the failure of the two sides to reach any agreements at the Hanoi summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.

The North Korean delegation came to Hanoi with a realistic proposal of the U.S. lifting some economic sanctions as a gesture of recognition of Pyongyang's 15-month moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile tests, Choe told diplomats and journalists.

Stephen Beigun, the United States special representative for North Korea, said he expects talks and close engagement to continue.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will soon make a decision on whether to continue diplomatic talks and maintain the country's moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, the senior North Korean official said, noting the USA threw away a golden opportunity at the recent summit between their leaders. She said statements by senior Trump advisers since the summit have further worsened the climate.

She said it was entirely up to Kim whether to continue the launch and test moratorium, and said she expects he will "clarify his position" within a short period of time. But she added: "Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful".

"'On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission [Kim] said, 'For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?" she said.

I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the United States will eventually put the situation in danger.

Choe questioned the claim by Trump at a news conference after the talks in Hanoi broke down that the North was seeking the lifting of all sanctions against it, and said it was seeking only the ones that are directed at its civilian economy. Following the meeting, Trump said the North had demanded full sanctions relief in return for dismantling a limited portion of its nuclear weapons program. "In any situation, our government will endeavour for the restart of North Korea-U.S. negotiations", South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement.

In Washington this week, the USA special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said the United States expected to be able to continue its close engagement, though he offered no specifics on when new talks might be held.

The sharp turn in rhetoric reflects the North's comments that were made during the missile crisis of 2017 when Kim ordered the launch of the powerful Hwasong-12 warhead.

'Whether to maintain this moratorium or not is the decision of our chairman of the state affairs commission, ' she said, using one of Kim's titles. "He will make his decision in a short period of time".

Talmadge is the AP's Pyongyang bureau chief.

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