By Suresh Somu
Jakarta. 18 March 2019 . Rarely do North Korea come out spewing fire while trying to patch up relations with the United States of America towards working for an amicable global peace.
But if one thinks negotiating with the North Koreans is going to be a walk in the park, think again. On Friday, North Korea Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned that the gangster-like stand of the US will eventually put the current mediation-situation in danger.
Having a reputation for fiery remarks, she referred to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US National Security Adviser John Bolton, where they have created an “atmosphere of hostility and mistrust” that thwarted the top leaders’ negotiations last month in Hanoi, Vietnam.
While taking a hardliner stand, Madam Choe maintained that personal relations between “Chairman Kim and President Trump were still good, and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful”. While this could be an indicator for denuclearisation, the North Korea leader remained doubtful about the merits of continuing negotiations with the USA, says Madam Choe.
“On our way back to the homeland, our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission said, “For what reasons do we have to make this train trip again?” she says.
Perhaps, the patience of Chairman Kim is wearing thin as he remained defiant for full sanctions lifted in exchange for complete denuclearization that the US is not backing down either.
North Korea might end its self-imposed moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. And this is something, which Mr Kim will decide, in a short period of time. North Korea was no longer interested in negotiating unless Washington changed its “political calculation”, warns Madam Choe.
Some foreign-policy experts suggested that the very sharp language from Madam Choe was typical of Pyongyang’s negotiating tactics and were aimed at winning leverage rather than scuttling talks.
Going by her tone, North Korea appears to have taken a stronger stance this time round. Madam Choe did not criticise Mr Trump directly and remained hopeful that he might soften Washington’s position. And also putting down a marker, on the way things are heading if nothing changes.
This week at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, special envoy Stephen Biegun, who worked tirelessly with his counterparts in Pyongyang, emphasized that the administration would not lift sanctions until North Korea completely dismantled its nuclear programme and ballistic missiles.
‘GANGSTER LIKE’ COMMENTS
Mr Pompeo later took the latest jaw-wrecking comments with a pinch of salt, stating this is not the first time he has been called “gangster like” by North Korea. And he also construed that Madam Choe’s remarks only reaffirmed that the possibility of negotiations will likely to continue. He further remained confident that Chairman Kim will honour his word to Mr Trump that he would not resume nuclear or missile testing.
For now, while the words of war continue, it seems that both sides have failed to articulate a path to bridge the wide gap between the demands of the US and North Korea’s push to gain full sanctions relief.
On a further sour note, the weekly inter-Korean meeting scheduled at a liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, had been cancelled after the North Koreans said they would not be sending senior officials.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, who was the linchpin for the talks between the US and North Korea, reiterated it will stay committed in assisting to resume North Korea-US negotiations.
For the moment, after the unproductive Hanoi meeting, cool heads must prevail if North Korea and the USA are sincere in trying to patch up relations towards working for an amicable global peace.