North Korea slams 'ludicrous' Pompeo, warns of cutting off talks
It hits out at US Secretary of State for urging countries to maintain sanctions
SEOUL : North Korea yesterday warned it could cut off dialogue with the US and slammed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for urging the international community to maintain sanctions on its regime.
Mr Pompeo last week told nations to "stay committed to applying diplomatic and economic pressure" over the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes while calling on the nuclear-armed state to return to talks.
A string of weapons drills by Pyongyang has come during a prolonged hiatus in disarmament talks with the US and despite recent overtures from Washington offering help to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), an unnamed official in charge of negotiations with the US called Pompeo's remarks "ludicrous".
"Listening to Pompeo's ludicrous language made us give up on any hopes for dialogue," the official said, adding: "We will walk our way."
The criticism came after the North said it had successfully tested "super-large multiple rocket launchers" on Sunday.
Analysts say the North continues to refine its weapons capabilities more than a year after a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump broke down in Vietnam.
The official also said the US will not drop its hostile policy even though their two leaders have a "special relationship".
"The American diplomat had unleashed insult at a country with which his president was willing to forge a good relationship", the official continued.
"It is puzzling who the real commander in chief is in the US," the official said.
North Korea said on March 22 it welcomed a letter from Mr Trump to Mr Kim as a sign of "the special and very firm personal relations" between the two leaders despite recent frictions.
KCNA said the US president had written in the letter he was impressed by the North Korean leader's efforts to defend his people from the coronavirus.
It said earlier yesterday that the latest test of super-large multiple rocket launchers a day earlier had been a success.
North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Sunday, the latest in a flurry of launches that South Korea decried as "inappropriate" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
KCNA said the launch was aimed at examining the strategic and technical features of the launchers, which have been tested multiple times since last August, overseen by Mr Kim ahead of deployment.
It did not mention Mr Kim's attendance at the latest test, led by ruling party vice-chairman Ri Pyong Chol and conducted at the Academy of National Defence Science.
"The operational deployment of the weapon system of super-large multiple rocket launchers is a crucial work of very great significance in realising the party's new strategic intention for national defence," Mr Ri was quoted as saying during the test.
"The test-fire was conducted successfully," KCNA added. - AFP, REUTERS