One of North Korea’s top nuclear negotiators with the United States has served up mild criticism of remarks by White House national security adviser John Bolton, calling him “dim-sighted” — the second condemnation of a top U.S. official in days.
On Saturday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency cited First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as criticizing Bolton over a recent interview with Bloomberg News. In the interview, Bolton said the U.S. would need “a real indication” that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is ready to give up his nuclear weapons before Trump will meet with him for a third summit.
“The president is fully prepared to have a third summit if he can get a real deal,” Bolton said in the interview.
Choe characterized Bolton’s remarks as “nonsense” and said the North had never expected that the top White House official, long a target of Pyongyang, “would ever make a reasonable remark.”
“Bolton’s remarks make me wonder whether they sprang out of incomprehension of the intentions of the top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. or whether he was just trying to talk with a certain sense of humor for his part,” she said. “All things considered, his word has no charm in it and he looks dim-sighted to me.”
DPRK is the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.
The remarks were relatively mild for a figure whom the North has in the past described as “human scum” and a “bloodsucker,” and appeared to highlight Pyongyang’s frustration with deadlocked nuclear negotiations.
Earlier in the week, the North tested a new weapon and demanded that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from the negotiations.
In a statement released Thursday by the North Korean Foreign Ministry and carried by the KCNA news agency, a top official blasted Pompeo, who it said had “spouted reckless remarks hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership,” a reference to Kim.
Still, as evidenced by the mild tone, it shows the North is still reining in any harsh rhetoric toward the U.S. and directly criticizing President Donald Trump as it seeks to keep the talks alive.
Kim and Trump have held two summits, the first in Singapore last June and the second in Vietnam in February, in part over Kim’s demands for immediate sanctions relief.