Washington: US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Tuesday (local time) acknowledged that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a “tyrant”.
Pompeo made the comments after he was quizzed at a Senate hearing whether he would use similar language for Kim as he has used for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“Sure. I’m sure that I have said that,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Pompeo saying before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee while discussing the State Department budget request for 2020.
The comments made by Pompeo is in direct contrast to what US President Donald Trump had said. He has described his relationship with Kim as “very good”, going as far as cancelling new sanctions against the reclusive state.
The remarks may irk North Korea which has signalled its intent for a third summit between Kim and Trump after the February meeting between the two leaders in Hanoi ended in a stalemate.No joint statement was released following the second round of talks, as it is reported that the two countries could not resolve their differences on sanction waivers.
Notably, Pompeo has made four visits to North Korea for discussing the South Asian nation’s denuclearisation process as well as establishing ties with Pyongyang after years of trading barbs and threats with Washington.
Asked to justify US’ stand in dealing with North Korea, Pompeo said, “The outcome is a fully verifiably denuclearised peninsula and greater peace, less risk in conventional means and hopefully a brighter future for the North Korean people as well.”
He said that “maximum economic pressure” remains the top priority for the Trump administration to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
Ties between the US and North Korea have hit a roadblock over the ease of sanctions, where Pyongyang sought relief as a recognition of the steps taken towards denuclearisation.
Washington has, until now, reinforced that relief in sanctions would only be given after Pyongyang carries out “complete and verifiable” denuclearisation.