North Korea threatens to scrap Kim-Trump summit
NORTH Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan threatened yesterday to cancel the forthcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, if the U.S. “corners” them “and unilaterally demands we give up nuclear weapons.”
NORTH Korea threatened yesterday to cancel the forthcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, accusing the U.S. administration of trying to force it “into a corner” on unilateral nuclear disarmament.
“If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue,” First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said in a statement carried by state media, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP). In that case, he added, Pyongyang would have to “reconsider” its participation at next month's summit in Singapore.
After announcing that it was pulling out of high-level talks with Seoul, the North took aim at U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and said it might have to reconsider whether to proceed with the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because it doubts how seriously Washington actually wants peaceful dialogue.
The moves give the clearest indication yet of North Korea’s mindset heading into the summit, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
Though North Korea has been for the most part silent about its intentions for the meeting, the announcements underscore two of its biggest concerns – the future of the nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea and claims coming out of Washington lately that sanctions and Trump's “maximum pressure” policy are what drove Kim to the negotiating table. But defanging Bolton, the most militant of Trump’s advisers, is now also apparently a major priority.
“We do not hide our feeling of repugnance toward him,” North Korea said of Bolton in a statement attributed by staterun media to senior Foreign Ministry official Kim Kye Gwan, according to the Associated Press (AP).
In an announcement issued hours before the statement, North Korea said it was pulling out of talks in the Demilitarized Zone that were supposed to be held later Wednesday with senior South Korean officials because of the military maneuvers that began earlier this week.
Annual military drills between Washington and Seoul have long been a major source of contention between the Koreas, but the current exercises, called “Max Thunder,” are particularly sensitive from North Korea's perspective because they reportedly involve nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and F-22 stealth fighters.
Meanwhile, China urged ally North Korea to proceed with a historic summit between its leader, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. “We support the improvement of North-South [Korean] relations, the promotion of dialogue between North Korea and the U.S., denuclearization on the peninsula and North Korea’s development of its economy and improvement of its people’s livelihood,” Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV.
At a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said North Korea and the U.S. should ensure the summit runs as planned and yields “substantial outcomes.” “Only in this way can we consolidate the alleviation of the situation and maintain peace and stability in the region,” Lu said.