North Korea called US Vice-President Mike Pence “ignorant and stupid” for his warnings over a planned summit with Donald Trump, renewing a threat to cancel as the US president said the fate of the historic talks will be decided next week.
Trump is due to meet his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12 for high stakes talks.
The summit announcement came after months of unusually cordial diplomacy between the historic foes brokered by South Korea.
But the newfound bonhomie and the meeting’s potential success has been thrown into doubt in recent days with both Washington and Pyongyang raising the prospect of cancelling the talks and trading threats.
The latest broadside from North Korea came Thursday with vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui lambasting a Monday media interview in which Pence warned Kim Jong Un that it would be a “great mistake” to try and play Trump.
Pence also said North Korea could end up like Libya, whose former leader Moamer Khadafi was killed by US-backed rebels years after giving up atomic weapons, “if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal”.
“I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the US vice-president,” Choe said in a statement released by the state-run KCNA news agency.
“We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us,” she said, adding she would recommend Kim cancel the talks if Washington continues to make such threats.
Similar comments comparing North Korea to Libya from Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton caused the first threat by Pyongyang last week to cancel the Singapore meeting.
“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” Choe added.