NEW YORK (AP) — Here are highlights of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong's interview with The Associated Press in New York on Saturday:
PROPOSAL TO THE UNITED STATES:
Stop the nuclear war exercises in the Korean Peninsula, then we should also cease our nuclear tests.
If we continue on this path of confrontation, this will lead to very catastrophic results, not only for the two countries but for the whole entire world as well.
EFFECT OF SANCTIONS:
If they believe that they can actually frustrate us with sanctions they are totally mistaken. ... The more pressure you put on to something, the more emotionally you react to stand up against it. And this is important for the American policymakers to be aware of.
These big countries alone or together are telling us that we should calm down. For us this is like a sentence ... that we should accept our death and refuse our right to sovereignty.
MESSAGE TO THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE:
One last message, if I may, I could bring to the American government and to the American people. It is really crucial for the United States government to withdraw its hostile policy against the DPRK. And as an expression of this, stop the military exercises, war exercises, in the Korean Peninsula. Then we will respond likewise.
US-SOUTH KOREAN MILITARY EXERCISES:
If the U.S. stops carrying out military exercises for some years, the U.S. is not going to do much harm to the American military, corporations and firms. And by doing so, just probably new opportunities may arise for the two countries and for the whole entire world as well.
HUMAN RIGHTS CRITICISMS:
The DPRK is completely misinterpreted to the whole entire world. I can for sure tell you that the country that has the best human rights would be the DPRK. ...
Let me tell you, in our country there is no single person that does not have a job or who does not have any job opportunities. Everyone enjoys 12-year compulsory education, free education system and free health care system. In addition to that, if you come to the DPRK you will see there is no prostitution, no drug addicts, or anybody who's jobless or who's just laying down on the street being homeless. You will not find anyone like that. Then why did we become the worst country in terms of human rights?
ON OTTO WARMBIER, THE U.S. STUDENT IMPRISONED IN NORTH KOREA:
The Virginia student, I will let the corresponding authorities know when I go back to Pyongyang that you are, also the American people, very much interested in how he is doing currently. What can be done as the next steps, it's beyond my jurisdiction.
IRAN'S AND CUBA'S RECENT DIALOGUE WITH WASHINGTON:
We're happy for the Cuban people and the Iranian people that they have reached successes on their path to pursuing their own goals and interests. ... (But) it's impossible that we can reach the same form and context as those cases. As I reiterate myself, we did not have any other choice but to possess nuclear weapons because of the pressure and the ... actual existing threat by the United States against the DPRK.
GOALS OF NEXT MONTH'S PARTY CONGRESS, THE FIRST UNDER LEADER KIM JONG UN:
The first thing is to advance the pace of economic building for a powerful nation. ... The second is to improve the people's living standards and to find best optimum ways to improve people's living standards. ... The third is to strengthen our national defense capabilities. ... I'm sure our country will be even more vibrant after the party congress.