North Korea hits out at Pompeo, warns hopes for US talks ‘disappearing’

North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in a statement released through state media on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019 said United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s “excessive” comments increased North Korean people’s animosity toward Americans and made it harder for working-level nuclear negotiations between the countries to resume. (AP/Bebeto Matthews, File)
Updated 31 August 2019

North Korea hits out at Pompeo, warns hopes for US talks ‘disappearing’

  • Pyongyang’s angry words come as working-level talks with Washington remain gridlocked
  • No progress has been made in recent weeks, as the reclusive state launched a series of weapons tests

SEOUL: North Korea Saturday lashed out at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his comments on Pyongyang’s “rogue behavior” and warned its expectations for nuclear talks with Washington are “gradually disappearing.”
Pyongyang’s angry words come as working-level talks with Washington remain gridlocked, despite an agreement in June between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump to kickstart the process.
Instead no progress has been made in recent weeks, as the reclusive state launched a series of weapons tests in protest at joint military exercises between the US and South Korea.
“Our expectations of dialogue with the US are gradually disappearing and we are being pushed to re-examine all the measures we have taken so far,” said Choe Son Hui, the North’s vice foreign minister, in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Choe took aim at remarks made earlier this week by Pompeo who described North Korea’s actions as “rogue behavior” that could not be ignored.
Such language was improper, irritating and insulting, Choe said, warning that the US should not to put “our patience to the test if it doesn’t want to have bitter regrets afterwards.”
The North’s blistering criticism of the top US diplomat comes a week after it called him a “diehard toxin” and said it was “skeptical” about whether it can negotiate with him.
Kim and Trump adopted a vague-worded statement on the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” at their first encounter in Singapore in June last year but little progress has since been made on discarding the North’s weapons programs.


Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

Updated 23 min 47 sec ago

Indonesia’s Indrawati to stay on as finance minister

  • Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts
  • Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016

JAKARTA: Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday she had been asked by President Joko Widodo to stay on in her post as his new cabinet takes shape for a second five-year term in office.

Widodo has since Monday tapped more than a dozen candidates for ministerial posts, including his presidential election rival Prabowo Subianto, who looks set to be defense minister.

The candidates — all wearing white shirts — have come to the presidential palace to be interviewed by Widodo, with most declining to confirm the positions offered ahead of an official announcement expected on Wednesday.

After meeting Widodo, Indrawati said she had agreed to stay on as finance minister and to ensure policies supported the president’s priorities such as improving human resources, creating jobs and executing government budgets well.

“Indonesia I think is facing a very dynamic and uncertain global economy and an economic slowdown that is pressuring the whole world,” Indrawati said.

“Therefore, a continued policy is needed in order to be able to guard our economy from the challenge of this global slowdown,” she said, noting she also discussed ways to narrow Indonesia’s current account and trade deficits.

Indrawati, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been finance minister in Southeast Asia’s largest economy since 2016, spearheading tax reform efforts, seeking to capitalize on a tax amnesty program in 2016-2017. She is now one of the longest serving finance ministers in Indonesia, having also held the post in the previous administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“Sri Mulyani is seen as a key architect behind the fiscal discipline in recent years and many wish for her continued leadership in driving deeper fiscal reforms,” Bank of America wrote in a note.

The make-up of the cabinet is being closely watched to see how many technocrats — who are more likely to fall in with Widodo’s plans for boosting growth and investment — were included.

Other ministerial candidates who came to the palace on Tuesday included Basuki Hadimuljono, who is credited with driving infrastructure projects as public works minister in Widodo’s first term, and Siti Nurbaya Bakar, environment minister in the first term.

On Monday, Nadiem Makarim, the chief executive of tech startup Gojek and media tycoon Erick Thohir, a former chairman of Italian soccer club Inter Milan, were among those confirming they had been asked to join the cabinet.

Speaking to media ahead of his inauguration on Sunday, Widodo said around 16 ministers in the new cabinet would come from political parties out of an anticipated 34 posts.