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North Korea threatens to dump talks

Historic summit in jeopardy over ‘US bid to force unilateral disarmament’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance with Ri Hong Sop (3rd L) and Hong Sung Mu (L) on a nuclear weapons programme in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance with Ri Hong Sop (3rd L) and Hong Sung Mu (L) on a nuclear weapons programme in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017.
Image: KCNA via REUTERS/File Photo

North Korea threatened yesterday to cancel the forthcoming summit between leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump, accusing the US of trying to force it into a corner on unilateral nuclear disarmament. In an angrily worded statement, Pyongyang insisted it would abandon the high-level meeting, set for June 12, if Washington sought to pressure it into giving up its atomic arsenal.

“If the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue,” first vice-foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan said.

In that case, Pyongyang would have to reconsider its participation at next month’s summit in Singapore.

Pyongyang’s move was regrettable, South Korea unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said, adding it “contradicts the fundamental spirit and purpose of the Panmunjom Declaration”.

The White House was still hopeful the summit would proceed despite Pyongyang’s threat to cancel it, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said yesterday.

“We’re still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we’ll continue down that path,” Sanders told Fox News.

“At the same time, we’ve been prepared that these might be tough negotiations.”

The North’s weaponry is expected to top the agenda at the talks, but Pyongyang has long insisted it needs the weapons to defend itself against invasion by the US.

The North’s minister Kim tore into Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, for drawing parallels between North Korea and Libya.

After giving up his atomic programme, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising backed by Nato bombing.

“It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the [North], a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development,” he said.

Washington is pressing for its complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, but so far the North has not given any public indication of what concessions it is offering, beyond euphemistic commitments to denuclearisation of the “Korean peninsula”.
Pyongyang had “made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearisation is to put an end to anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States”, Kim said.

In the past, Pyongyang has demanded the withdrawal of US troops stationed in the South, and an end to Washington’s nuclear umbrella over its security ally.

Minister Kim also dismissed offers by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for US economic aid if the North denuclearises.

“We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction and will not at all make such a deal in future,” he said.

In recent weeks, as well as an eye-catching summit with the South’s leader last month in the Demilitarised Zone, Kim has twice met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pyongyang has announced it will destroy its nuclear testing site next week.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally, expressed hope yesterday that the meeting would still go ahead.

Analysts said Pyongyang appeared to be trying to redefine the terms of the debate.

“It’s a diplomatic tactic,” Kim Hyun-wook, professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said, calling it “brinkmanship to change the US position”.

“It looks like Kim Jong-un was pushed into accepting US demands for ‘denuclearisation-first’ but is now trying to change its position after normalising North Korea-China relations and securing economic assistance.

“The classic North Korean tightrope diplomacy between the US and China has begun.”

Joshua Pollack of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies said: “The North Koreans aren’t happy with what they’re seeing and hearing.

“There is still a yawning gulf between expectations for diplomacy in Pyongyang and Washington, DC.”

The North also denounced the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the US and South Korea as a “rude and wicked provocation”, and Seoul said it had received a message cancelling planned high-level talks indefinitely. – AFP

and President Donald Trump, accusing the US of trying to force it into a corner on unilateral nuclear disarmament. In an angrily worded statement, Pyongyang insisted it would abandon the high-level meeting, set for June 12, if Washington sought to pressure it into giving up its atomic arsenal.

“If the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue,” first vice-foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan said.

In that case, Pyongyang would have to reconsider its participation at next month’s summit in Singapore.

Pyongyang’s move was regrettable, South Korea unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said, adding it “contradicts the fundamental spirit and purpose of the Panmunjom Declaration”.

The White House was still hopeful the summit would proceed despite Pyongyang’s threat to cancel it, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said yesterday.

“We’re still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we’ll continue down that path,” Sanders told Fox News.

“At the same time, we’ve been prepared that these might be tough negotiations.”

The North’s weaponry is expected to top the agenda at the talks, but Pyongyang has long insisted it needs the weapons to defend itself against invasion by the US.

The North’s minister Kim tore into Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, for drawing parallels between North Korea and Libya.

After giving up his atomic programme, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising backed by Nato bombing.

“It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the [North], a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development,” he said.

Washington is pressing for its complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, but so far the North has not given any public indication of what concessions it is offering, beyond euphemistic commitments to denuclearisation of the “Korean peninsula”.
Pyongyang had “made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearisation is to put an end to anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States”, Kim said.

In the past, Pyongyang has demanded the withdrawal of US troops stationed in the South, and an end to Washington’s nuclear umbrella over its security ally.

Minister Kim also dismissed offers by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for US economic aid if the North denuclearises.

“We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction and will not at all make such a deal in future,” he said.

In recent weeks, as well as an eye-catching summit with the South’s leader last month in the Demilitarised Zone, Kim has twice met Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pyongyang has announced it will destroy its nuclear testing site next week.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally, expressed hope yesterday that the meeting would still go ahead.

Analysts said Pyongyang appeared to be trying to redefine the terms of the debate.

“It’s a diplomatic tactic,” Kim Hyun-wook, professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, said, calling it “brinkmanship to change the US position”.

“It looks like Kim Jong-un was pushed into accepting US demands for ‘denuclearisation-first’ but is now trying to change its position after normalising North Korea-China relations and securing economic assistance.

“The classic North Korean tightrope diplomacy between the US and China has begun.”

Joshua Pollack of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies said: “The North Koreans aren’t happy with what they’re seeing and hearing.

“There is still a yawning gulf between expectations for diplomacy in Pyongyang and Washington, DC.”

The North also denounced the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the US and South Korea as a “rude and wicked provocation”, and Seoul said it had received a message cancelling planned high-level talks indefinitely. – AFP

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