North Korea Calls Trump-Kim Summit Into Question Over US Military Drills With South Korea

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

Outraged over joint military drills, North Korea is threatening to derail diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula, potentially including President Donald Trump’s highly anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

A furious North Korea said Wednesday that it is canceling high-level talks with South Korea due to serious concerns over joint military drills with the U.S., according to Yonhap News Agency. North Korean state media criticized the Max Thunder drills, calling the two-week exercise involving more than 100 military aircraft a rehearsal for an invasion and an unnecessary provocation. North Korea called the allied military exercises a deliberate violation of the Panmunjom Declaration, a joint statement calling for peace at the inter-Korean summit in April.

“This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea and targeting us, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) explained Wednesday.

“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 report further stated, adding, “We will keep a keen eye on the future attitudes of the US and South Korean authorities.”

Pyongyang’s criticisms are surprising considering earlier reports out of Seoul that Kim expressed a clear understanding about joint U.S.-South Korean military drills in talks with South Korean diplomats. The North did not complain about larger drills in April, but those drills were held before the inter-Korean summit and bilateral promises to pursue peace on the peninsula. (RELATED: Thousands Of US, South Korean Troops Are Training For War, But North Korea Weirdly Isn’t Freaking Out About It)

While the North Korean report is unquestionably a threat, it is much more restrained than past statements critical of joint military drills, which could signal that the North is trying to express its frustrations without completely ruining everything.

Trump is expected to meet Kim on June 12 in Singapore.

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