North Korea Threatens to Pull out of Trump-Kim Meeting
Seoul/Washington , MINA- — (dpa) – North Korea on Wednesday threatened to abandon a landmark summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump if the US insisted that it completely abandon its nuclear weapons.
“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 and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the (North Korea)-US summit,” Kim Kye Gwan, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, DPA reported, citing to the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).
North Korea said it was also unwilling to abandon its nuclear weapons in return for economic assistance. “We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction,” the official said.
Kim earlier Wednesday abruptly cancelled talks with Seoul and threatened to call off the Trump summit due to US-South Korean joint military exercises which began on Friday.
The North Korean leadership cancelled the summit with South Korea – scheduled for later in the day – due to the ongoing so-called Max Thunder drills being conducted by Washington and Seoul, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said in a statement.
The United States and South Korea have insisted the drills are purely for defence purposes. But North Korea’s leadership described them as a “military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean peninsula,” KCNA reported.
“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities,” Pyongyang said.
The White House said it will look at what North Korea has said “independently” and continue to coordinate closely with allies.
Seoul described North Korea’s decision to cancel the talks as “regrettable.”
The Unification Ministry said in a statement the move was “regrettable” and did “not conform with the spirit and purpose of the agreements reached between the leaders of the two countries.”
The government remained committed to the Panmunjon Declaration reached at last month’s inter-Korean summit and urged North Korea to return to talks “as soon as possible,” the statement added.
Wednesday’s summit had been intended as a follow-up to the historic meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In last month, during which the leaders agreed to work toward a permanent peace treaty and the elimination of nuclear weapons on the peninsula.
Though the meeting between the two nations – technically at war for more than six decades – was hailed as a historic breakthrough, scepticism about the North’s commitment to denuclearization has flourished, given its abandonment of similar agreements in the past.
Pyongyang’s threat to reverse its decision to participate in a summit with Trump, which is scheduled to take place June 12 in Singapore, appeared to take the US by surprise.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the department had “received no formal or even informal notification of anything” relating to the tests or the summit from North Korean officials.
She also said the joint military exercises are legal and would continue, as would the planning for the summit.
“What we have to go on is what Kim Jong Un has said before – that he understands and appreciates the importance to the United States of having these joint exercises,” Nauert said. (T/RS5/RS1)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)