North Korea on Sunday warned Washington that claiming Pyongyang was forced into talks by US pressure risked returning the peninsula “back to square one”, as the world awaits a landmark summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.
The pair is set for the first ever face-to-face meeting between a sitting American president and North Korean leader, with a date and venue to be announced soon, Trump said Friday.
Their meeting comes after a historic summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarised zone that divides their countries, during which Kim gave a tentative commitment to ridding the North of its nuclear weapons and facilities.
Trump has credited his “maximum pressure” campaign of tough rhetoric and tightened sanctions for a breakthrough with Pyongyang, saying last week that Washington’s “strength is going to keep us out of nuclear war”.
But a spokesman for the North’s foreign ministry accused the US of “deliberately provoking” Pyongyang in an effort to undermine the current “atmosphere of dialogue”.
Describing Pyongyang’s recent move as a “sign of weakness” would “not be conducive” to talks, and may “bring the situation back to square one”, he added.
The spokesman did not explicitly mention the Kim-Trump summit, and Pyongyang has yet to make any formal announcement of their planned meeting.
Tensions have run high between the two men over the last year, with both leaders trading threats of war and colourful personal insults that sparked global concern.
But in a dramatic diplomatic turnaround, Kim vowed with Moon to seek denuclearisation and pursue a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War through a peace treaty with Seoul.
Kim also pledged to close its nuclear test site this month and invited US experts and journalists to verify the move.