North Korea will reconsider attending a summit with the United States if there are "one-sided" talks on nuclear weapons, Kim Kye Gwan, the country's vice foreign minister, said in a statement to the country's state-run KCNA News agency Wednesday.
North Korea suspended talks with the South on Tuesday after a joint US-South Korea military exercisebegan a day earlier. North Korea's Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump are scheduled to meet on June 12 in Singapore to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
What Kim said
- "We are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes, and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-US summit meeting."
- "We already expressed our willingness for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and repeatedly declared that the US must end its hostile DPRK policy and nuclear threats as preconditions."
- "We will appropriately respond to the Trump administration if it approaches the North Korea-US summit meeting with a truthful intent to improve relations."
- He criticized recent comments from Trump's top security adviser, John Bolton, about how North Korea should follow the "Libyan model" of nuclear disarmament and provide "a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement."
- He also criticized US comments suggesting North Korea should abandon not only nuclear weapons but also its biological and chemical weapons.
Drills to proceed
The US State Department emphasized that Kim had previously understood the need for the long-planned drills to proceed.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "We will continue to go ahead and plan the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un."
South Korea’s Defense Minister said the joint military maneuvers would continue as planned.
Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun said the North’s decision goes against the spirit of last month's inter-Korean summit, where the leaders of both Koreas vowed to work towards “complete denuclearization" on the Korean Peninsula and pledged permanent peace.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged the United States and North Korea to "meet each other halfway," saying that the meeting between the two leaders would be an "important opportunity" for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
"All parties concerned, especially North Korea and the United States, should meet each other halfway, show kindness and sincerity to each other, and together create favorable conditions and atmosphere for the leaders' meeting," ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
Kim playing to his home audience? Some analysts see North Korea’s latest warning as a domestic show of strength against Trump and any US willingness to make concessions. The country has a long history of provocative behavior, and has previously scrapped deals with Seoul and Washington at the last minute, including planned reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, and a promise to suspend weapons tests in 2012 in return for food aid.
Why the Singapore meeting is key: Trump surprised most Korea watchers by announcing he was planning to meet Kim despite the pair spending months engaged in a war of words over North Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Seen as the biggest diplomatic achievement of Trump's presidency, any cancellation of the Singapore summit — the first meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader — would deal a major blow to efforts to force Pyongyang to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
Military drills stoked new unease: The US and South Korea began the so-called Max Thunder joint military exercises on Monday. The two allies have insisted that the drills are routine and purely for defense purposes. They will continue for two weeks.
Tensions eased recently after years of acrimony: North Korea has spent decades developing its atomic arsenal and missiles capable of reaching the US, earning itself multiple rounds of UN Security Council resolutions and international sanctions. But relations between the North and South improved suddenly earlier this year when Seoul used the Winter Olympics in the South to broker the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.
mm,dv/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)