North Korea Says It Won’t Hold Talks with ‘In­com­pe­tent’ South Un­less Dif­fer­ences Set­tled


North Korea’s chief ne­go­tia­tor called the South Korean gov­ern­ment “ig­no­rant and in­com­pe­tent” on Thurs­day, de­nounced US-South Korean air com­bat drills and threat­ened to halt all talks with the South un­less its de­mands are met, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

The com­ments by Ri Son Gwon, chair­man of North Korea’s Com­mit­tee for the Peace­ful Re­u­ni­fi­ca­tion of the coun­try, were the lat­est in a string of in­flam­ma­tory state­ments mark­ing a dras­tic change in tone af­ter months of eas­ing ten­sion with plans for de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion and a sum­mit sched­uled with the United States.

Ri crit­i­cized the South for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the drills, as well as for al­low­ing “hu­man scum” to speak at its Na­tional Assem­bly, Reuters re­ported the North’s KCNA news agency as say­ing in a state­ment.

“Un­less the se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion which led to the sus­pen­sion of the north-south high-level talks is set­tled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of south Korea,” the state­ment said. It did not elab­o­rate.

KCNA, in its English-lan­guage ser­vice, de­lib­er­ately uses lower-case “north” and “south” to show that it only recog­nises one un­di­vided Korea.

North Korea on Wed­nes­day said it might not at­tend the June 12 sum­mit be­tween leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Sin­ga­pore if the United States con­tin­ued to de­mand it uni­lat­er­ally aban­don its nu­clear arse­nal, which it has de­vel­oped in de­fi­ance of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions to counter per­ceived U.S. hos­til­ity.

A South Korean pres­i­den­tial Blue House of­fi­cial said the South in­tends to more ac­tively per­form “the role of a me­di­a­tor” be­tween the United States and North Korea, but that goal has been cast into doubt by Ri’s com­ments.

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