Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un had been set to meet for historic talks in Singapore on June 12 but North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan, said Pyongyang has no interest in a ‘one-sided’ summit.
North Korea had already cancelled a high-level meeting with South Korea and threatened to scrap the historic summit next month over military exercises between Seoul and Washington and pressure to give up nuclear weapons.
Kim Kye Gwan criticised recent comments by President Trump’s top security advisor John Bolton and other US officials who have been talking about how the North should follow the ‘Libyan model’ of nuclear disarmament and provide a ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement’
He also took issue with US views that the North should also fully relinquish its biological and chemical weapons.
He said: ‘We will appropriately respond to the Trump administration if it approaches the North Korea-US summit meeting with a truthful intent to improve relations.
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‘But we are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-US summit meeting.’
His comments followed a statement by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), that was released hours before the two Koreas were to meet at a border village to discuss how to implement their leaders’ recent agreements to reduce military tensions along their heavily fortified border and improve their overall ties.
It called the two-week Max Thunder drills, which began on Monday and reportedly include about 100 aircraft, an ‘intended military provocation’ and an ‘apparent challenge’ to the April summit between Mr Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in.
KCNA said the US aircraft mobilised for the drills include nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and stealth F-22 fighter jets, two of the US military assets it has previously said are aimed at launching nuclear strikes on the North.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the drills will go on as planned.
The North said: ‘The United States must carefully contemplate the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit amid the provocative military ruckus that it’s causing with South Korean authorities’
‘We’ll keenly monitor how the United States and South Korean authorities will react.’
Army Colonel Rob Manning said this current exercise is part of US and South Korea’s ‘routine, annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness.’
It is unclear whether the North intends to end all diplomacy or merely wants to gain leverage ahead of the planned talks between Mr Kim and Trump.
The US State Department emphasised that Mr Kim had previously indicated he understood the need and purpose of the US continuing its long-planned exercises with South Korea.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US had not heard anything directly from Pyongyang or Seoul that would change that.
She added: ‘We will continue to go ahead and plan the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.’