U.S., N. Korea top envoys swap small talk, big threats
SINGAPORE — Rollercoaster nuclear diplomacy between the United States and North Korea hit highs and lows Saturday as the countries’ top diplomats traded polite words and barbs, leaving efforts to rid the North of its atomic weapons at an uncertain juncture.
At a security conference in Singapore, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused North Korea and other countries, including Russia, of continuing to violate U.N. sanctions aimed at pressing Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal. But at the same time, he oversaw the handover of a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from President Donald Trump and exchanged pleasantries with the North’s top diplomat.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, meanwhile, greeted Pompeo with a smile, but then delivered a scathing attack on the Trump administration for approaching the negotiation poorly by insisting on sanctions enforcement.
Ri said North Korea would not be forced into acting unilaterally and demanded that the U.S. undertake “confidence building” measures if the negotiation was to be successful.
After Pompeo warned anew that no sanctions would be lifted until North Korea fully and finally denuclearizes, Ri told the annual ASEAN Regional Forum that the North would not be bullied into concessions.