By Joyce Lee
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said on Friday Pyongyang is ready for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, warning Washington that continuing with sanctions would be a miscalculation, according to state media KCNA.
Working-level talks between the United States and North Korea have yet to restart since stalling after the failed second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February.
Trump and Kim met again in June at the inter-Korean border and agreed to reopen negotiations, but that has not happened as yet.
“If the U.S. is still dreaming of achieving everything with sanctions, we must either let it dream on or shatter that dream,” Ri said.
“We are prepared for both dialogue and confrontation. If the U.S. tries to confront us with sanctions and not abandon its confrontational posture, it would be a miscalculation.”
Ri also accused U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of casting “dark shadows” over U.S.-North Korea talks, claiming that Pompeo was more interested in his own political ambitions than in current U.S. foreign policy.
The remarks on KCNA were prompted by Pompeo’s comments in a media interview this week saying if North Korea doesn’t denuclearise, the U.S. will maintain the strongest sanctions in history while convincing North Korea that denuclearisation is the right path, Ri said.
U.S. envoy Stephen Biegun, who leads working-level talks with North Korea, arrived in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss the talks.
Denuclearisation talks were expected to be reopened soon, South Korea’s deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong said, giving his upbeat assessment after meeting Biegun on Thursday.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Ju-min Park; Editing by Paul Tait & Simon Cameron-Moore)