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Pyongyang Notes ‘Sign Of Change’ In US-North Korea Relations, Warns Washington Not To ‘Spoil The Atmosphere’

KCNA/ via REUTERS

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

North Korean state media noted Tuesday a “sign of change” in the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang, but criticized claims that international pressure is driving the North’s conciliatory behavior.

The Korean Central News Agency, a state-run government mouthpiece, wrote that “dishonest forces,” a reference to conservatives in the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, are “peddling groundless stories distorting the truth.” The rogue regime expressed strong dissatisfaction with the many claims that President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign is producing effects, asserting that reconciliation is a byproduct of the North’s confidence and firm commitment to the defense of peace.

North Korea asserts the “peace-loving proposal made by the DPRK,” not sanctions and other pressure tactics, are primary motivating factors. The rogue regime criticized claims that its economy is on the rocks or that it has ulterior motives.

“It is really an expression of small-mindedness for the riff-raffs to spoil the atmosphere and say this or that,” KCNA argued, “before the parties concerned are given a chance to study the inner thoughts of the other side and are seated at a negotiating table.”

The state media report did not specifically mention the possible summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but this commentary is the first time North Korea has commented on shifts in U.S.-North Korean relations and potential negotiations.

South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong, after briefing the White House on the details of his recent trip to Pyongyang, announced earlier this month that not only has Kim expressed a willingness to meet Trump, but the president has agreed to the meeting. Plans for the unprecedented meeting were later confirmed by the president and White House staff.

North Korea, however, has yet to publicly acknowledge the proposed meeting with Trump. The prevailing theory, pushed by a former diplomat, is that the North was “surprised” by Trump’s decision to meet and is now scrambling to put together a plan.

While Seoul and Washington are under the impression that Pyongyang is interested in discussing denuclearization, North Korean state media has spent the past few weeks arguing that its nuclear weapons program is just. The reason for the disconnect remains unclear.

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