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Pompeo dismisses North Korean threat to end nuclear talks

Tracy Wilkinson and Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo sought to downplay a North Korean warning Friday that Kim Jong Un was considering breaking off nuclear talks with the Trump administration and resuming the country's nuclear and missile tests.

Pompeo said that during last month's nuclear summit in Hanoi, Kim had assured President Donald Trump "on multiple occasions" that he would not lift a self-imposed moratorium on the tests.

"So that's Chairman Kim's word," Pompeo said at the State Department. "We have every expectation that he will live up to that commitment."

The Hanoi summit collapsed without an agreement and both leaders left empty-handed, leaving the two sides at an impasse despite the high-level engagement.

Pompeo spoke several hours after North Korea's deputy foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, told foreign journalists and diplomats in Pyongyang that Kim would decide "in a short period of time" whether to resume tests.

North Korea has not launched a ballistic missile or detonated a nuclear device since 2017, and Trump has cited the pause as one of the main achievements of his rapprochement with Kim.

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Choe, who accompanied Kim to the Hanoi summit, said the Trump administration had thrown away a "golden opportunity" and that without concessions from Washington, North Korea may pull out of talks.

"We have neither the intention to compromise with the U.S. in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation," Choe said, according to the Associated Press.

Choe criticized Pompeo and Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, by name, saying they had created "an atmosphere of hostility and mistrust" that undermined cooperation.

She avoided blaming Trump, saying relations between the two leaders was "still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful."

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