US President Donald Trump’s comments on military force and the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, would represent “a very dangerous challenge” if they were intended to provoke Pyongyang, a top North Korean diplomat said on Thursday.
Trump’s comments threaten to return the two countries to the tensions of two years ago, Choe Son Hui, first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs for North Korea, said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.
In 2017 the two leaders famously engaged in a war of words, with Trump calling Kim “Rocket Man” and North Korea slamming the US president, now 73, as a “dotard”.
Since then Trump and Kim have met three times, but negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenal have stalled.
This year saw a number of short-range ballistic missile launches by North Korea, and Kim has warned that the United States has until the end of the year to change its stance or he could take an unspecified “new path.”
On Tuesday Trump once again called Kim “Rocket Man” and said the United States reserved the right to use military force against North Korea.
“If this is meant to make expressions, reminiscent of those days just two years ago when a war of words was fought across the ocean, surface again on purpose, it will be a very dangerous challenge,” Choe said, arguing that the comments aroused concern and undermined the dignity of North Korea’s leader.
The lack of courtesy shown to Kim had “prompted the waves of hatred of our people against the US and the Americans and they are getting higher and higher”, Choe said.