Without mentioning the United States by name, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday said his nation must deliver a "telling blow" to those imposing crippling sanctions during a meeting of the country's ruling party, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Kim’s remarks were the first on the continuing sanctions since his February meeting with President Trump in Hanoi broke down over the issue. It also comes ahead of Thursday’s meeting between Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington.
“It did not directly mention the U.S., but linked sanctions with hostile forces,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “He’s saying North Korea would take an independent course unless the U.S. offered to lift sanctions. You maintain sanctions, you’re a hostile force; if you ease sanctions, you’re not.”
Kim has continued his economic push in recent weeks despite the sanctions, Reuters reported. His meeting with Trump ended over differences about how much North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program and how much the U.S. was willing to ease economic sanctions.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a congressional committee that he would like to leave “a little room” in the sanctions in case North Korea makes progress in giving up its nuclear weapons.