North Korea will reconsider the anticipated summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un if Washington continues to insist that Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons, a top regime official said Tuesday night.
Trump and Kim are set to meet June 12 in Singapore, an unprecedented face-to-face meeting between the top representatives of longtime adversaries. The Trump administration has insisted that Kim agree to the permanent, irreversible dismantling of his nuclear stockpile in exchange for the lifting of U.S. sanctions on North Korea.
But Pyongyang has no intention of trading economic relief for nuclear disarmament, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, said late Tuesday.
“The U.S. is trumpeting as if it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon nuke [weapons],” Kim said in a statement released though North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “But we have never had any expectation of U.S. support in carrying out our economic construction and will not at all make such a deal in [the] future, too.”
If the Trump administration “corners us and unilaterally demands we give up nuclear weapons we will no longer have an interest in talks and will have to reconsider whether we will accept the upcoming DPRK-US summit,” Kim added.
He went on to call out by name national security adviser John Bolton, who has spoken of pursuing a Libya-style denuclearization plan for North Korea.
It was a “highly sinister attempt to enforce the fate of Libya and Iraq upon the DPRK,” Kim said, referring to deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown and killed in a U.S.-led NATO intervention in 2011.
Earlier Tuesday, North Korea said it was canceling high-level talks with South Korea over concerns about its joint military drills with the U.S. The move came as a surprise, given earlier reports from Seoul that Kim had accepted the upcoming drills in his discussions with South Korean diplomats.
In announcing the cancellation of talks with Seoul, KCNA also indicated that going forward with the military exercises could put the presidential summit in jeopardy.
“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities,” the KCNA report stated, adding “We will keep a keen eye on the future attitudes of the US and South Korean authorities.”
The Trump administration has characterized the summit as a major diplomatic breakthrough resulting from its “maximum pressure campaign” on Pyongyang.
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