U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited North Korea's "rogue" behavior on Tuesday as negotiations on dismantling the country's nuclear weapons program have continued to stall.
In a speech to American veterans, the top U.S. diplomat touted the values of "Americanism" and how it means telling the "truth" about the challenges the nation faces.
"This administration did not pretend that the Islamic Republic of Iran was a responsible actor in the Middle East. We called out China's bad behavior on trade and on national security. We recognized that North Korea's rogue behavior could not be ignored," Pompeo said at the National Convention of the American Legion in Indianapolis, Indiana.
He went on to say that the U.S. "galvanized global support to denuclearize North Korea," but stopped short of mentioning the international sanctions that have been placed on the regime.
Washington has continued to express hope that Pyongyang will return to denuclearization negotiations in line with a June 30 agreement between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The talks have stalled since the two sides failed to reconcile Washington's demands for complete denuclearization and Pyongyang's demands for sanctions relief during the second Trump-Kim summit in February.
In a blistering statement carried by state media last week, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho slammed 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 Pompeo's earlier remarks on maintaining sanctions short of North Korea's denuclearization, Ri said: "He is truly impudent enough to utter such thoughtless words which only leave us disappointed and skeptical as to whether we can solve any problem with such a guy."
The secretary again raised the issue of sanctions in an interview with NBC WTHR on Tuesday, noting they were not American sanctions but U.N. Security Council resolutions.
"The entire world asked a simple thing: We asked North Korea to get rid of their nuclear weapons and to denuclearize. When they do that, the president's made pretty clear there'll be a brighter future for the people of North Korea," he said. "I hope that Chairman Kim will put his team in the field to work with my team and deliver a good, solid outcome for the American people."
Meanwhile, referring back to the first summit in Singapore in June 2018, Pompeo in his speech hailed the North's subsequent return of the remains of some American soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.
He also pledged the Trump administration's commitment to "making sure that every last American soldier buried on Korean soil comes home, and comes home soon." (Yonhap)