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As Bolton Pick Raises Fears of Pre-Emptive Attack, Pyongyang Urges US to Adopt 'Serious Attitude' for Peace

Top North Korean official says Monday his country wants to be "free from aggression and war."

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

A senior North Korea official on Monday urged the United States to behave as if it seriously wants peace.

In his short speech to the general assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a global organization based in Geneva, Ri Jong Hyok said, "Now is the high time to put an end to the U.S. anachronistic anti-DPRK hostile policy and its futile moves of sanctions and pressure."

"The United States should properly understand our position and come out in a manner of sincere and serious attitude for positively contributing to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," Ri, a member of the Supreme People’s Assembly and director of the National Reunification Institute, added.

He has previously said (pdf) the United States' decades-long nuclear threats were the sole driving factor behind his country's development of nuclear weapons, and asserted Monday that his country wants to build a "just and peaceful new world, free from aggression and war."

The statements come just days after President Donald Trump announced that war hawk John Bolton—who recently argued that, absent Korean reunification, "unpalatable military options" are the only way to respond to North Korea—was his pick to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser. 

The White House announced earlier this month that Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will sit down for in-person talks—a positive development peace groups attributed to diplomacy from the South. But according to Bolton, the talks are just an excuse for Pyongyang to further develop its nuclear arsenal.

Speaking Sunday to New York-based radio show "The Cats Roundtable," Bolton said that "preparations are already underway" for the talks, "but I think we have to look at what North Korea's motivation is here."

"They've got a fairly limited number of things that they need to do in North Korea to make their nuclear warheads actually deliverable on targets in the United States, so they want to try to slow roll the negotiations to buy more time," he argued.

Although the "normal route here is months and months of preparation, that would simply play into the North Korean playbook. And I think the sooner we have the meeting and have a very straightforward discussion—Is North Korea going to give up its nuclear weapons? How are we going to do it? How are we going to take it out of the country?—not a theoretical discussion about these issues but very concretely, How they are going to denuclearize North Korea? The sooner we get to it and cut through the chase, the better," Bolton said.

The American public, however, is widely supportive of the historic summit. According to a new AP-NORC poll, nearly half—48 percent—of Americans are in favor of Trump taking part in direct negotiations with Kim, while just 29 percent oppose the plan.

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