North Korea to America: This Isn't Working

North Korea's top diplomat blames America at regional security conferernce
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2018 9:40 AM CDT
North Korea to America: You're Blowing This
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, greets North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho as they prepare for a group photo at the 25th ASEAN Regional Forum Retreat in Singapore, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.   (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

North Korea sent the US an unexpectedly sharp message Saturday: These talks aren't working, and you're the problem. Speaking at a regional security conference in Singapore, North Korea's top diplomat said his nation is taking steps in the right direction while Washington fails to reciprocate, the New York Times reports. Ri Yong-ho, North Korea's minister of foreign affairs, said in a closed-door meeting that North Korea has taken steps toward denuclearization—like dismantling a nuclear test site and stopping nuclear tests—but America hasn't reciprocated by curbing sanctions or declaring the Korean War officially over. "The United States, instead of responding to these measures, is raising its voice louder for maintaining the sanctions against the DPRK," he said in part.

Ri was friendlier while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remained at the conference, shaking his hand and exchanging pleasantries for a photo op, the Washington Post reports. "There are many productive conversations to be had," Ri told him. Ri was also given a letter from Trump that followed up on a missive last week from Kim Jong Un (the contents remain private, but Trump recently tweeted thanks to Kim for "your nice letter" and added, "I look forward to seeing you soon!"). Another tidbit: Before flying to Indonesia, Pompeo told Russia not to help North Korea get around UN sanctions that Moscow had approved. Meanwhile, the UN warned Friday that North Korea is skirting UN sanctions with illegal transfers of oil products and has hired a Syrian middleman to sell weapons to Libya and Yemen, AFP reports. (Pyongyang has accused Washington of being "gangster-like.")

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