North Korea Says Even Trump-Kim Friendship Can't Save U.S. Denuclearization Talks

A senior North Korea official has lashed out at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over beleaguered denuclearization and sanctions relief talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

The statement—published by KCNA state media—carried remarks from an unnamed North Korean official who was described as the "new chief of negotiations." The official suggested that Pompeo's behavior is making it difficult to reach a deal, despite the "special relationship" between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

The statement was issued shortly after Pyongyang conducted its latest rocket test, which was roundly condemned in South Korea as the international community grapples with the medical and economic burden of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The world would not know why the U.S.-North Korea relations continue to get tangled up, despite the special relationship between the leaders of North Korea and United States," the KCNA statement read, arguing that Pompeo is the problem.

Pompeo told G7 nations last week that they must "stay committed to applying diplomatic and economic pressure" on Pyongyang over its weapons research programs, though also urged the regime to return to stalled denuclearization talks.

But his message was received poorly in Pyongyang. "Listening to Pompeo's ludicrous language made us give up on any hopes for dialogue," the official said in the KCNA statement, warning: "We will walk our way."

The official said that Pompeo "unleashed insult at a country with which his president was willing to forge a good relationship," referring to Trump's letter to Kim in which he said he hoped to cooperate in efforts to fight coronavirus. "It is puzzling who the real commander in chief is in the U.S.," the official added.

Northern officials have criticized Pompeo in the past, dismissing him as a "diehard toxin" too focused on forcing Pyongyang's denuclearization before allowing any sanctions relief. The Trump administration was initially hopeful of a lasting deal with the North, but efforts have floundered with the two sides disagreeing on the shape of the disarmament process.

Northern weapons research has continued despite ongoing negotiations, though Kim has refrained from any ballistic missile or nuclear tests. KCNA announced Monday that the military had successfully completed a super-large multiple rocket launcher test on Sunday.

South Korea described the launch as "inappropriate" given the current pandemic. Newsweek has contacted the State Department to request comment on the launch and the KCNA statement attacking Pompeo.

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A man watches a television news programme showing file footage of a meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, on January 1, 2020. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty