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North Korea takes swipe at Mike Pompeo for 'ludicrous statements'

North Korea's foreign ministry criticized U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) on Monday. File Photo courtesy of the White House
North Korea's foreign ministry criticized U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) on Monday. File Photo courtesy of the White House

March 30 (UPI) -- North Korea condemned U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday in a statement suggesting his remarks were damaging ties between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

North Korea's new foreign ministry department director general in charge of U.S. negotiations said Pompeo's "ludicrous statements" have compelled Pyongyang to "fold back enthusiasm" for future U.S.-North Korea talks.

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Last week at a virtual summit of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, Pompeo said nations must collectively exert diplomatic and economic pressure against North Korea in response to its illegal nuclear weapons and missile development.

The North Korean statement issued Monday clearly distinguished Pompeo from Trump, going as far as to suggest Pompeo was interfering with Trump's approach to North Korea.

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"On the one hand, President [Trump] sends a letter to our leadership signaling support on coronavirus outbreak prevention while requesting close communication," the foreign ministry statement read.

"On the other hand, that person who calls himself the secretary of state is pouring verbal abuse at a country the [U.S.] president wants to build a good relationship with, while trampling over the intention of the president.

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"It has come to a point where it is unclear who is the ruler of the United States."

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North Korea is accusing the United States of raising pressure and supporting sanctions at a time when the country could be struggling, following a decision to shut down its 880-mile border with China.

Pressure could be building in North Korea to partly open the border amid an economic slowdown.

Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported Monday trucks have been seen entering North Korea from the Chinese side despite stronger restrictions against cross-border activity ahead of April 15, North Korea's birth anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung.

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China may also be assisting North Korea with supplies of medical equipment, including masks, Asahi's China and North Korea-based sources say. The supplies entered North Korea from a checkpoint in Dandong, China, according to the report.

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