Seoul pushes for Trump-Kim talks
Ongoing military drills cool diplomatic moves
SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF —
North Korea strongly criticized South Korea over ongoing U.S.South Korean military exercises on Thursday and said it will not return to talks with its rival until Seoul resolves its grievances.
The comments came a day after North Korea cancelled a high-level meeting with the
South because of the drills and threatened to scrap next month’s historic meeting between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump, saying it has no interest in a “one-sided” affair meant to pressure it to abandon its nuclear weapons.
In quotes published by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, Ri Son Gwon, chair of a North Korean agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs, accused South Korea’s government of being “an ignorant and incompetent group devoid of the elementary sense of the present situation, of any concrete picture of their dialogue partner and of the ability to discern the present trend of the times.” Ri said it will be difficult to resume talks with South Korea “unless the serious situation, which led to the suspension of the North-South high-level talks, is settled.”
The South urged the North to faithfully abide by the agreements reached between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in their summit last month, where they issued a vague vow on the “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula and pledged permanent peace.
In Washington, Trump said the U.S. hasn’t been notified about the North Korean threat to cancel the summit with Kim.
The North’s news agency said the U.S. aircraft mobilized for the current drills include nuclearcapable B-52 bombers and stealth F-22 fighter jets, two of the U.S. military assets it has previously said are aimed at launching nuclear strikes on the North. The allies say the drills are defensive in nature.
Kim told visiting South Korean officials in March that he “understands” the drills would take place and expressed hope that they’ll be modified once the situation on the peninsula stabilizes, according to the South Korean government.
Despite Kim’s outreach, some experts have been skeptical that he would completely give up a nuclear program that he has pushed so hard to build.