North Korea Wants Mike Pompeo Gone from Nuclear Talks, Asks for Someone More 'Mature'

 Mike Pompeo
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference while President Donald Trump looks on following his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, on February 28 in Vietnam. Tuan Mark/Getty Images

North Korea has taken a swipe at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with Pyongyang saying America's most senior diplomat should be removed from nuclear talks and replaced by someone "more careful and mature."

Reuters reported that the message denouncing the role Pompeo has played in the denuclearization talks was made through North Korea's tightly controlled state media. North Korean Foreign Ministry official Kwon Jong Gun also used his statement to make cryptic statements about the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea, via the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

"No one can predict" the outcome on the Korean Peninsula if the United States fails to abandon the "root cause" that led to North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, Kwon said. He did not elaborate further.

A State Department spokesperson told Newsweek via email that officials were aware of the report. "The United States remains ready to engage North Korea in a constructive negotiation," the spokesperson added.

According to the Associated Press, Pyongyang was displeased by Pompeo's comments during a speech at Texas A&M on Monday. The secretary of state told an audience that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had promised denuclearization during the his first summit with President Donald Trump, last year in Singapore.

Pompeo said the two nations were working to "chart a path forward so we can get there," and, as such, "[Kim] said he wanted it done by the end of the year," Pompeo said. "I'd love to see that done sooner."

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry's American Affairs Department said Pompeo was "talking nonsense," had "misrepresented" the North Korean position and had a "talented skill of fabricating stories."

The broadside from North Korea comes amid a rapid shifting of tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea's leadership said Thursday that it had test-fired a new "tactical guided weapon," the first such test in nearly half a year.

In a speech last week to North Korea's nominal parliament, Kim said he was still open to a third round of talks on denuclearization if the U.S. was willing to reconsider its stance on sanctions against Pyongyang.

Earlier this year, talks between Kim and Trump in Vietnam ended abruptly after the two sides appeared to hit an impasse on the thorny issue of sanctions. Trump has continued to emphasize the importance of his personal relationship with Kim. In an April tweet, he wrote: "I agree with Kim Jong Un of North Korea that our personal relationship remains very good, perhaps the term excellent would be even more accurate."

However, Trump said last month that he "would be very disappointed if I saw testing." Neither the White House nor the Pentagon has immediately responded to North Korea's claims of fresh tests.

This article has been updated to include a comment from the State Department.