As Pyongyang pursues a series of weapons tests and ignores US calls for talks, North Korea has named a woman, Choe Son-hui, as foreign minister for the first time , reported the official press on Saturday, June 11.

Choe, a former deputy foreign minister, was named to lead North Korean diplomacy at a ruling party meeting chaired by leader Kim Jong-un, according to the official KCNA news agency. She replaces Ri Son-gwon, a hard-line former military official who led negotiations with South Korea.

A career diplomat fluent in English, Choe was a close adviser to Kim Jong-un during nuclear talks with the United States and accompanied the North Korean leader to summits with the then US president. , Donald Trump.

She held a rare question-and-answer session with reporters overnight that saw the Hanoi summit between the two leaders fail in February 2019. She then blamed Washington. “I think the United States missed a golden opportunity by rejecting our proposals,” she said.

Diplomatic deadlock

Since then, diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington has been at an impasse. The North Korean regime has not responded in recent months to offers from Washington to return to the negotiating table.

North Korea, which has acquired nuclear weapons, has been conducting a series of weapons tests since the beginning of the year, during which it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time since 2017.

US and South Korean officials have said Kim Jong-un’s regime may also carry out a nuclear test. On Tuesday, US Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman warned there would be a “swift and forceful” response if Pyongyang proceeded with what would be its seventh such test.