On Thursday, North Korea said that it had rejected the offer of the United States for fresh talks, claiming it was not eager for further discussions merely aimed at “appeasing us” ahead of a year-end deadline Pyongyang has set for Washington to show more flexibility in negotiations.
The nuclear negotiator of North Korea, Kim Myong Gil said in a statement carried by a country’s official news agency that Stephen Biegun, his U.S counterpart who jointly led last month’s failed denuclearisation talks in Stockholm, had offered through a third country to meet again.
Last month, Kim and Biegun met in the Swedish capital for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed in June to re-open negotiations that have been stalled since an unsuccessful summit in Vietnam in February.
But Kim Myong Gil stated that the U.S. side had failed to present a new approach and the meeting fell apart. “If the negotiated solution of issues is possible, we are ready to meet with the U.S. at any place and any time,” he added.
However, he stated that the proposal of Biegun had a “sinister aim of appeasing us in a bid to pass with ease” Pyongyang’s year-end deadline. “We have no willingness to have such negotiations.”
North Korea has been seeking a lifting of punishing sanctions, but the United States has insisted Kim Jong Un must dismantle his nuclear weapons program first summit in Singapore in June last year, namely “transformed relations, building lasting peace, and complete denuclearisation.”
In April, following the collapse of the Hanoi summit Kim Jong set a year-end deadline for Washington to show more flexibility, raising concerns that North Korea could return to nuclear bomb and long-range missile testing suspended since 2017.
The U.S. defense officials were gathering in Seoul for annual meetings amid intensifying from North Korea to stop joint military drills when the latest North Korean statement came. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley reaffirmed that Washington was ready to use the “full range” of its capabilities to defend South Korea from any attack.
The US is also seeking a greater financial contribution from South Korea to host American troops. It also urged South Korea to revoke its decision to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan known as GSOMIA, which Washington worries may undermine trilateral cooperation.
A North Korean official, Kim Yong Chol said in a statement that he hoped Esper meant to completely halt the joint drills. “I assess his comment reflected Trump’s thinking and was part of the U.S. side’s positive efforts to revive the momentum for talks,” he said. “But if … the hostile provocation against us is carried out, we won’t help but respond with shocking punishment that the United States can’t afford,” he added.