North Korea Threatens to Walk from Planned Summit with United States
Ben Cho, May 24, 2018, 8:15 a.m.
North Korea will reconsider the planned summit with the United States if Washington sticks to "unlawful and outrageous acts," its vice foreign minister said Thursday. In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, Choe Son-hui, a North Korean vice foreign minister, said that whether the June 12 summit between its leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump will happen as scheduled entirely rests on the decision and behavior of the U.S.
"Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States," Choe said.
"In case the U.S. offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the DPRK-U.S. summit," she added.
DPRK is the abbreviation of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The threat came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump held a summit in Washington on Tuesday (local time). Trump suggested the summit with the North might not take place on June 12.
North Korea has ramped up criticism of the U.S. for forcing "unilateral" denuclearization. The Trump administration maintains that it seeks the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program, with no promise of concessions until that process is in motion. The North reportedly wants a phased and synchronous approach.
Choe's remarks came a week after Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan threatened to walk away from the summit, saying the North is not interested in any nuclear talks in which it is coerced into giving up its nuclear arsenal.
Choe singled out U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, lambasting him for mentioning a Libya-style approach and military option against the North in a recent media interview.
"U.S. Vice-President Pence has made unbridled and impudent remarks that North Korea might end like Libya, military option for North Korea never came off the table, the U.S. needs complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, and so on," she said. "As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president."
Choe warned against comparing the North to Libya, which "met a tragic fate," and warned of an "appalling tragedy" for the U.S. She added that it was not the North but the U.S. that has asked for dialogue.
"It is the U.S. who has asked for dialogue, but now it is misleading the public opinion as if we have invited them to sit with us... We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us," she said.
The South Korean government said that it is analyzing Choe's remarks. "We are closely analyzing the remarks (Choe made) that the (North-U.S.) summit will be reconsidered," Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told reporters at a press briefing."The government is in close consultations with the U.S and other relevant countries to make sure the goal of compete denuclearization agreed upon in the inter-Korean summit is achieved through such talks as the summit between the North and the U.S.," he added.