North Korea will in no way unilaterally disarm and that the U.S. must first and foremost build trust with North Korea, the country’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho told the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Saturday.
Ri also said that North Korea was “unwavering” in its commitment to implementing the joint declaration signed in Singapore by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Without any trust in the U.S. there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances, there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first,” Ri said.
“The primary task for effectively implementing the DPRK-U.S. joint statement should be bringing down the barrier of mistrust,” he added.
The foreign minister told the UNGA that U.S. attempts to coerce North Korea into denuclearization will not work and that corresponding steps must be taken by both sides in order to advance progress between the two countries.
Sanctions were directly referenced by Ri as a barrier to bilateral progress and as an example of U.S. efforts to coerce the DPRK.
“The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe dream of the people who are ignorant about us but the problem is that the continued sanctions are continuing our mistrust,” Ri said.
The minister said that the current diplomatic impasse between both countries is a result of such pressure that he said was contrary to trust building. Ri also sought to contrast this with the relatively rapid progress achieved in inter-Korean relations in 2018.
“The recent dramatic improvement of the North-South relations and the atmosphere of cooperation clearly show how decisive the role of trust building can be,” he said.
“If the party to this issue of denuclearization were South Korea and not the U.S. the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula would not have come to such a deadlock,” Ri added.
The subject of North Korea-U.S. relations have been raised several times during the course of the week at the UN by a number of member states.
This includes at two UN Security Council (UNSC) meetings, chaired by Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo respectively. Both stated that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes.
Ri had previously met with Pompeo on Wednesday, during which he extended Pompeo an invitation to Pyongyang from Kim Jong Un.
It is expected that Pompeo will be discussing plans to hold a second summit between the two leaders, which Trump said could occur relatively soon.
Featured image: United Nations
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