(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea has named as its new international minster a former senior military officer with little expertise in dealings with the US, in a doable indication it would take a tougher line with Washington in stalled nuclear negotiations.
The brand new publish for Ri Son Gwon was disclosed Friday in a Korean Central Information Company dispatch that mentioned he attended a reception for international diplomats in Pyongyang on Thursday. South Korean and different exterior media beforehand reported North Korea had not too long ago knowledgeable international diplomats in Pyongyang of Ri’s job.
In his speech on the banquet, “Comrade Ri Son Gwon mentioned that the Korean folks have turned out within the normal offensive to interrupt by way of head-on the obstacles to the advance of socialist development by dint of self-reliance … and made public the international coverage stand of the (North Korean) authorities,” KCNA mentioned.
Ri, an outspoken retired military colonel who not too long ago headed a authorities physique answerable for relations with South Korea, has taken half in quite a few inter-Korean talks over the previous 15 years. However he lacks expertise in negotiations with the US.
In South Korea, he’s most identified for what have been seen as impolite remarks to South Korean businessmen visiting Pyongyang in September 2018. Whereas they have been consuming naengmyeon, Korean conventional chilly noodles, Ri requested them: “Are naengmyeon happening your throats?” in obvious dissatisfaction with an absence of progress in efforts to advertise inter-Korean financial tasks. Many conservatives in South Korea strongly criticized him.
Ri changed Ri Yong Ho, a profession diplomat with broad experiences in dealings with each the US and South Korea who had taken half in nuclear negotiations with the US since early 2018. It wasn’t instantly identified what occurred to Ri Yong Ho, whose title was final talked about in KCNA final August.
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at South Korea’s non-public Sejong Institute mentioned Ri Son Gwon’s appointment signaled North Korea would additional harden its stance on the US and bolster its push to cement its place as a nuclear state.
“Any further, it’s troublesome to count on significant progress in North Korea-U.S. diplomacy,” Cheong mentioned.
Nuclear talks between the US and North Korea have progressed little for the reason that breakdown of the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean chief Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February 2019. Kim not too long ago mentioned North Korea would bolster its nuclear arsenal and unveil a brand new “strategic weapon” after the US failed to satisfy a year-end deadline set by him to make concessions.
A senior State Division official advised reporters Wednesday that Washington was conscious of Ri Son Gwon’s reported appointment and hopes North Korea will perceive the significance of resuming diplomacy.
“There’s nothing to be gained by not speaking. It’s solely to their profit, so we encourage them to speak,” the official mentioned on situation of anonymity as a result of he wasn’t approved to talk publicly to the matter. “It’s sluggish, affected person, regular diplomacy. We’re going to stay with that plan.”