North Korea on Saturday issued a relatively mild criticism of White House national security adviser John Bolton for calling on North Korea to show more evidence of its disarmament commitment before a possible third leaders' summit.
North Korea’s criticism appears to be a continuation of its frustration at deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States. Earlier in the week, the North tested a new weapon and demanded that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo be removed from the nuclear negotiations. But the country is still avoiding directing harsh rhetoric toward the U.S. and directly criticizing President Donald Trump in an apparent effort to keep diplomacy alive.
On Saturday, state media cited First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as criticizing Bolton over his recent interview with Bloomberg News. In the interview, Bolton said the U.S. would need more evidence that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is ready to give up his nuclear weapons before Trump would meet with him for a third summit.
Choe described Bolton's comments as having "no charm" and being "dim-sighted," and said the United States has nothing to gain with such remarks. But she stopped short of asking Washington to remove Bolton from the nuclear talks.
Her criticism was much softer than the North's past fiery rhetoric directed at the U.S. and South Korea in tense times. In 2003, North Korea's state media called Bolton "human scum" after he described then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the late father of Kim Jong Un, as a "tyrannical dictator."
Earlier this week, North Korea test-fired what it called a new type of "tactical guided weapon," but many foreign experts say it wasn't a prohibited test of a medium- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuffle the nuclear negotiations.
In her Saturday statement, Choe said Bolton “should at least have understood about what kinds of substantive communications are made between the top leaders concerning the third round of summit before he had ever opened his mouth.” South Korean media quickly speculated that there might be some sort communication between the U.S. and North Korea over a third Trump-Kim summit.
Kim and Trump had two summits — the first in Singapore in June last year and the second in Vietnam in February. The second summit collapsed due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on the North. Kim is to visit Russia for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month.