Seoul pushes for Trump-Kim talks

On­go­ing mil­i­tary drills cool diplo­matic moves

Waterloo Region Record - - World - KIM TONG-HYUNG

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.

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