North Korea threatens to back away from summit with US, reportedly calls Pence 'political dummy'

North Korea early Thursday threatened to back away from the much-anticipated upcoming summit with the U.S. and called Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy," ratcheting up the rhetoric after months of signaling an openness to compromise.

The dig at Pence apparently stemmed from his Fox News interview on Monday, when he told Martha MacCallum on "The Story," that North Korea "asked for the meeting" with the U.S.

"But when Kim Jong Un through the South Koreans reached out and said he would suspend his nuclear testing, suspend his ballistic testing, and be willing to achieve complete denuclearization through talks in exchange for a meeting with President Trump, this president readily said yes," Pence told Fox News.


"As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president," North Korea's vice foreign minister, Choe Sun Hui, said in a statement released by state media, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Choe said the U.S. "has asked for the dialogue" with the North but is now "misleading the public opinion as if we have invited them to sit with us."

"We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us," Choe reportedly said.

Whether the U.S. "will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," Choe said, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

Choe said she'd suggest Kim reconsider the summit if "the U.S. offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts."

The threat came after Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House earlier this week.


Trump said Tuesday "there's a very substantial chance" his meeting with Kim won't happen as planned, telling reporters that Kim had not met unspecified "conditions" for the summit.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was "very hopeful" the summit would proceed, but said that whether the meeting takes place is "ultimately up to Chairman Kim."

If the summit between the U.S. and North Korea happens, it will be the first between leaders of the two countries following more than six decades of hostility.

The North unexpectedly pulled out of planned peace talks with South Korea last week, objecting to U.S.-South Korean military exercises, and also threatened to abandon the planned Trump-Kim meeting, accusing the U.S. of a "one-sided demand" that it give up its nuclear weapons.

"Whatever it is," Trump said, "we will know next week about Singapore and if we go I think it will be a great thing for North Korea."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.