GNS – INTERNATIONALE PRESSE ASSOCIATION
DIPLOMACY IS THE ONLY PATH TO ACHIEVE PEACE
By Joshua Berlinger,
North Korea: Trump’s UN speech amounted to ‘the sound of a dog barking”
(CNN)North Korea’s foreign minister has delivered a scornful response to US President Donald Trump’s threat to destroy the hermit kingdom, likening it to the sound of “a dog barking.”
Ri Yong Ho, who is in the US for the United Nations General Assembly, said he “felt sorry” for Trump’s advisers after the speech on Tuesday.
“If he was thinking he could scare us with the sound of a dog barking, that’s really a dog dream,” Ri told reporters outside his hotel in New York. In Korean, a dog dream is one that is absurd and makes little sense.
In his debut speech to the UN on Tuesday, Trump vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if the US was forced to defend its allies.
Referring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by a nickname he first used in in a tweet Sunday, Trump said: “Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”
When asked about Trump’s use of the nickname, Ri said: “I feel sorry for his aides.”
Though Trump’s speeches typically employ colorful rhetoric, threatening another country with destruction was unprecedented for a US President and took diplomats aback.
North Korean diplomats were not present for Trump’s speech.
Little chance of meeting
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also in New York, but played down the possibility of a meeting with his North Korean counterpart.
Pyongyang and Washington do not maintain formal diplomatic relations and the presence of North Korea’s top diplomat in the US could have afforded a rare chance for high-level, face-to-face dialogue.
Tillerson told reporters he did not believe he could have a “matter-of-fact discussion with North Korea because we don’t know how their means of communication and behavior will be.”
Tillerson claimed there were signs that increased international pressure on North Korea was starting to bear fruit. He said there was evidence of fuel shortages in the country after the passage of recent UN sanctions, which targeted oil imports among other things.
However, analysts pointed out that fuel shortages did not necessarily prove that sanctions were having an effect, as most North Koreans don’t own cars or use fuel at anywhere near the rate of the rest of the world.
Anthony Ruggiero, an expert in the use of targeted financial measures at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said sanctions rarely hit fast. Any lines for gas were “probably more due to the regime stockpiling fuel in anticipation that China would implement the restriction,” Ruggiero, who worked at both the State Department and Treasury Department, told CNN.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in Thursday, two important US allies on North Korea’s doorstop.
They are likely to discuss the sanctions regime, a key part of the Trump administration’s strategy on North Korea. The US hopes that if a global coalition mounts enough pressure on North Korea, it will put its nuclear weapons on the negotiating table.
China spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the issue in a phone call Monday, the White House said. Accounting for about 90% of North Korea’s imports, Beijing is seen by many as the key to any North Korea strategy.
While China voted in favor of the two most recent UN resolutions against North Korea, Chinese diplomats have called for calm as Trump’s rhetoric has heated up, and editorials in Chinese state media have continued to assail the US President’s approach to diplomacy.
“It is time for the US to realize that irresponsible words and actions are backing the DPRK into a corner with no way out, and it would be a tragedy if Trump’s risky game of chicken with the DPRK crosses the point of no return,” read an editorial published Thursday in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party.
“Rather than hurl threats and try to pass the buck to China, the US should accept its responsibility, and do more to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation.”
CNN’s Taehoon Lee in Seoul contributed to this report