North Korea warned the United States Tuesday that if nuclear arms talks are not resumed before the end of the year, it may not be happy with the “Christmas gift” delivered by leader Kim Jong Un.
In a statement attributed to Ri Thae Song, a vice foreign minister in charge of U.S. affairs, the regime expressed frustration at the lack of progress in the talks with the U.S., saying the negotiations appeared to be a “foolish trick” aimed at stalling North Korean progress and scoring domestic political points.
Ri said North Korea has “heard more than enough” of U.S. rhetoric and “no one will lend an ear to the U.S. any longer.”
North Korea has been calling for the U.S. to offer new terms for a deal since the February summit in Hanoi between Kim and President Donald Trump broke down. Since the end of that meeting between the two leaders, North Korea has resumed missile tests and has threatened to start launching long-range missiles again as well.
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Speaking to reporters in London on Tuesday as meetings between NATO member countries begin, Trump said he had “confidence” in Kim.
“I like him, he likes me, we have a good relationship,” Trump said when asked about the missile tests. “We'll see what happens. It may work out, it may not.”
Trump added that Kim “likes sending rockets up, doesn't he?”
“That's why I call him Rocket Man,” Trump said, referring to a nickname he had given Kim amid their belligerent exchanges in 2017.
Trump claimed that if it were not for his efforts to deal with Kim “we would be in World War III right now.” But he added that he was willing to use U.S. military might against North Korea.
“If we have to, we'll do it,” he said.
Trump also said he felt that South Korea should “pay substantially more” to defend against the northern threat.
In October, the North Koreans said a meeting in Sweden aimed at restarting the negotiations fell apart because the U.S. had “not discarded its old stance and attitude.”
In April, Kim threatened to seek a “new path” if the U.S. did not bring something new to the table by the end of the year.
Last month, Stephen Biegun, the administration’s special representative for North Korea, said it was up to North Korea to signal a commitment to denuclearization and a willingness to resume talks in earnest.
“The window is still open but they need to seize the moment,” Biegun told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Ri claimed North Korea “has done everything transparently and openly so far. It feels no need to hide what it will do from now on and therefore, reminds the U.S. once again that the year-end time limit comes nearer.”
“What is left to be done now is the U.S. option and it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get,” he said.
The regime has used the gift metaphor before. After it tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in July 2017, Kim called it a “package of gifts” for the Fourth of July.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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