N. Korea’s FM unlikely to attend U.N. General Assembly

NEW YORK-- North Korea's top diplomat is unlikely to attend this year's meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in a move that, if confirmed, would dash expectations for a meeting between him and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the sidelines.

The North had earlier informed the U.N. that Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho would attend the U.N. General Assembly session opening on Sept. 17. But last week, Pyongyang changed the level of its keynote speaker to an ambassadorial, or "Corps Diplomatique," official from a minister-level official, according to sources.

Pyongyang's U.N. Ambassador Kim Song is expected to make the speech on Sept. 30.

Ri's plan to travel to New York had spurred hope that he could meet with Pompeo on the sidelines of the U.N. session to discuss ways to move the stalled nuclear talks between the two countries forward.

The North's apparent decision not to send Ri came as the regime has sharply stepped up criticism of Pompeo.

Earlier this month, Ri himself issued a blistering statement slamming Pompeo as "the diehard toxin of the U.S. diplomacy," and warned that the U.S. would be "sadly mistaken" if it planned to continue its "confrontation" with the North through sanctions.

On Saturday, the North's first vice foreign minister, Choe Son-hui, also issued a statement rapping Pompeo for branding Pyongyang's behavior as "rogue." Choe warned that expectations for dialogue with the North are "gradually disappearing" and warned the communist regime could "reexamine all the measures we have taken so far." She also warned Washington not to test Pyongyang's patience.

Nuclear talks between the North and the U.S. have been stalled after February's summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un broke down without an agreement due to differences over sanctions relief and denuclearization measures.

Trump and Kim held a surprise meeting at the inter-Korean border on June 30 and agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks within weeks, but no such talks have taken place yet as Pyongyang conducted a series of missile and rocket launches.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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