Seoul pushes for successful talks
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — 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 canceled 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.
The North’s threat cooled what had been an unusual flurry of diplomatic moves from a country that last year conducted a provocative series of weapons tests that had many fearing the region was on the edge of war. It also underscored South Korea’s delicate role as an intermediary between the U.S. and North Korea and raised questions over Seoul’s claim that Kim has a genuine interest in dealing away his nukes.
Analysts said it’s unlikely that North Korea intends to scuttle all diplomacy. More likely, they said, is that it wants to gain leverage ahead of the talks between Kim and Trump, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
In quotes published by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, Ri Son Gwon, chairman 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.”