North Korea slams ‘ignorant and stupid’ Pence
SEOUL – Agence France-Presse
North Korea called U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence “ignorant and stupid” for his warnings over a planned summit with Donald Trump, renewing a threat to cancel as the U.S. president said the fate of the historic talks will be decided next week.
Trump is due to meet his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12 for high stakes talks aimed at ridding the reclusive state of its newly acquired nuclear weapons and improving ties after decades of animosity.
The summit announcement came after months of unusually cordial diplomacy between the historic foes brokered by South Korea.
But the newfound bonhomie and the meeting’s potential success has been thrown into doubt in recent days with both Washington and Pyongyang raising the prospect of cancelling the talks and trading threats.
The latest broadside from North Korea came May 24 with vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui lambasting a May 21 media interview in which Pence warned Kim Jong Un that it would be a “great mistake” to try and play Trump.
Pence also said North Korea could end up like Libya, whose former leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed by U.S.-backed rebels years after giving up atomic weapons, “if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.”
“I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president,” Choe said in a statement released by the state-run KCNA news agency.
“We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us,” she said, adding she would recommend Kim cancel the talks if Washington continues to make such threats.
Similar comments comparing North Korea to Libya from Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton caused the first threat by Pyongyang last week to cancel the Singapore meeting.
“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,” Choe added.
Politically, Trump has invested heavily in the success of the planned summit, and so privately most U.S. officials, as well as outside observers, believe it will go ahead.