North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho has personally lashed out at his U.S. counterpart, saying he's casting a dark shadow over the denuclearization talks.
In a statement on Friday, Ri said it would be a miscalculation for Washington to try and deal with the regime using the sanctions -- saying North Korea will remain America's biggest threat.
The foreign minister said the North is ready for both dialogue and confrontation.
Ri was referring to comments by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview in which he said Washington will keep its strongest-ever sanctions on Pyeongyang in place should the regime keep its nuclear weapons.
He called Pompeo a "diehard toxin" that lacks rational judgement, blaming him for hampering the talks.
Ri's statement comes after U.S. nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun said during his visit to Seoul that he was ready resume denuclearization talks as soon as he hears from the North.
But prospects appear dim as Pyeongyang has been stepping up its rhetoric in protest against the Seoul-Washington joint military exercises and the adoption of new weapons.
Experts see North Korea's criticisms as expressing displeasure and possibly signaling that it's not in a rush to start talking again because the outcome at this point might not be favorable.
"At this point, I don't think there is any reason for North Korea to talk to the U.S. It doesn't seem very rosy from the perspective of North Korea. // North Korea knows that even if it goes into the talks with the U.S., it knows the U.S. will not change its attitude towards North Korea. What it wants is the U.S. to change its posture and lift sanctions alongside the dismantlement of Yeongbyeon -- which is not U.S. policy."
South Korea's unification ministry -- which is in charge of inter-Korean affairs -- called on North Korea and the U.S. to build mutual trust and respect each other, expressing hope for positive negotiations.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.