Friday, November 16 2018

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N. Korea casts doubt on Trump summit

Update: May, 16/2018 - 11:00

SEOUL — North Korea on Wednesday called into question a much-anticipated and unprecedented summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump set for next month.

Pyongyang also cancelled high-level talks due Wednesday with Seoul over the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the United States and South Korea, denouncing the drills as a "rude and wicked provocation".

"There is a limit in showing goodwill and offering opportunity," the North’s official news agency KCNA said.

The drills between the two allies’ air forces were a rehearsal for invasion and "a deliberate military provocation" at a time when inter-Korean relations were warming, it added.

"The US will have to think twice about the fate of the DPRK-US summit," KCNA said, referring to the North by its official acronym.

Washington said it will continue to plan the meeting in Singapore on June 12, with State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert telling reporters it had received "no notification" of a position change by North Korea.

At a dramatic summit last month in Panmunjom, the truce village in the DMZ, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged to pursue a peace treaty to formally end the conflict and reaffirmed their commitment to denuclearising the peninsula.

But the phrase is open to interpretation on both sides and the North has spent decades developing its atomic arsenal, culminating last year in its sixth nuclear test - by far its biggest to date - and the launch of missiles capable of reaching the US.

The drive has seen it subjected to multiple rounds of UN Security Council resolutions, while Trump and Kim traded personal insults and threats of war last year.

Olympic thaw

Relations underwent a sudden turnaround as Moon used February’s Winter Olympics in the South to broker talks between Washington and Pyongyang, before meeting with Kim in the DMZ last month.

The Trump-Kim summit is due in Singapore on June 12, with Washington demanding the North give up its weapons in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.

High-level talks were meant to take place in the DMZ Wednesday to discuss follow-up measures to the Panmunjom summit between Kim and Moon.

But KCNA called the Max Thunder drills "an undisguised challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration" taking place before the "ink on the declaration had a chance to dry".

"We cannot but take a step of suspending the north-south high-level talks scheduled on May 16 under the prevailing seriously awful situation."

In a statement, Seoul’s unification ministry, which handles relations with the North, said it had received a message "in the name of chief delegate Ri Son Gwon that they were postponing the high-level talks indefinitely".

"Accordingly, today’s high level talks won’t take place and the government will react following consultations among relevant agencies," it added. — AFP

 

 

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