By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – North Korea does not care who is president of the United States, a senior Pyongyang-based diplomat said during a visit to the United Nations on Tuesday following the election of Donald Trump to succeed President Barack Obama.
Kim Yong Ho, director of human rights and humanitarian issues, spoke to reporters after a U.N. General Assembly committee approved a draft resolution condemning “widespread and gross violations of human rights” in the Asian state.
“We do not care about whoever becomes the president of the United States,” Kim said. “The fundamental issue here is whether or not the United States has the political will to withdraw its hostile policy toward the DPRK (North Korea).”
North Korea regularly accuses the United States and South Korea of preparing for war by holding annual joint military exercises. The United States and South Korea also plan to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the South to counter missile and nuclear threats from the North.
Trump said in May he was willing to talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to try to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear program, proposing a major shift in U.S. policy toward the isolated nation.
However, ahead of the Nov. 8 election, an adviser to Trump said last month he could not foresee any circumstances in the short or medium term in which the Republican nominee would meet the leader of North Korea if he became president.
North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006. In March, the Security Council tightened sanctions to further isolate the impoverished country after its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February.
Since North Korea’s fifth and largest nuclear test more than two months ago, the United States and China, a close ally of North Korea, have been negotiating a new draft Security Council resolution to punish Pyongyang.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)