North Korea has “no intention” to sit down for with the U.S. without firm assurances that Washington will withdraw its “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang, a top official said in a statement released Tuesday.
The statement, issued by Kim Yong Chol, a senior official on the DPRK ruling party’s Central Committee and Chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, also rejected U.S. efforts to improve ties through the recent postponement of a joint U.S.-ROK military drill.
“The suspension of the drill does not mean ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula and is not helpful to the diplomatic efforts for the settlement of issues,” Kim was quoted as having said by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
The statement also reiterated recent North Korean condemnation of U.S. support last week for a human rights resolution in the United Nations, pointing to that vote and other policies as proof of Washington’s continued aggression towards the DPRK.
“If the U.S. is concerned about the DPRK-U.S. dialogue, the question is why it persistently depends on “human rights” racket, sanctions and pressure aiming at defaming and stifling the DPRK, its dialogue partner [?]” Kim asked.
While the U.S. has persistently asked the North for negotiations on denuclearization, he continued, it is not interested in talks on “the complete and irrevocable withdrawal of its hostile policy,” which he identified as the “root cause” of tension on the peninsula.
“We have nothing pressing and have no intention to sit on the table with the tricky U.S.,” Kim insisted.
Pyongyang now expects “due compensation” for achievements the U.S. President “has talked too much about for over a year,” he said, likely a reference to Trump’s continued touting of his diplomatic successes with North Korea in recent months.
Talks on denuclearization will only be able to go ahead, Kim continued, when “confidence-building between the DPRK and the U.S.” are discussed and “all the threats to the security and development of the DPRK are removed.”
“The U.S. should not dream of the negotiations for denuclearization before dropping its hostile policy toward the DPRK.”
The top official, who previously served as North Korea’s top negotiator with the U.S., also appeared to reject more lower-level confidence building steps between the two, such as the “establishment of peace mechanism.”
His statement comes just hours after another by a top North Korean diplomat, advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Kim Kye Gwan, in which the official rejected a recent overture by President Trump and insisted the U.S. drop its “hostile policy.”
It also comes in response to the U.S. and South Korea’s Sunday decision to postpone a round of joint air combat military exercises, in a move Washington said was intended as “an act of goodwill” towards the North.
Kim last week called for the U.S. to postpone this exercise — dubbed the “Combined Flying Training Event” — or face “shocking punishment” in response.
But his statement Tuesday appeared to up North Korea’s demands, instead calling for the U.S. to “quit the drill or stop it once and for all.”
These broader calls for a full suspension of ROK-U.S. exercises, one expert said, suggested that bringing an end to those drills is now a key negotiating demand for Pyongyang.
“Kim’s message confirms that North Korea views U.S.-ROK joint military exercises as a key component of ‘all types of threats undermining our [North Korea’s] security and development,’ and that its ultimate goal is to completely stop them,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro, said.
“Kim’s reiteration of complete and irreversible withdrawal of U.S. hostile policy’ prior to a denuclearization discussion, and how the DPRK needs to be compensated for each accomplishment that the U.S. president has boasted of, all track with North Korea’s recent pronouncements and point to a difficult road ahead for the resumption of U.S.-DPRK talks,” she added.
Featured image: MOU, file photo