North Korea has repeated that it has no immediate plans to resume nuclear negotiations with the United States unless Washington discards what it describes as “hostile” policies towards Pyongyang.
Saturday’s statement by North Korean First Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui came after US President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, told reporters on Thursday that Trump might seek another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as an “October surprise” before the US presidential election.
“Is it possible to hold dialogue or have any dealings with the US which persists in the hostile policy towards the DPRK in disregard of the agreements already made at the past summit?” Choe said, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We do not feel any need to sit face-to-face with the US, as it does not consider the DPRK-US dialogue as nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis,” she said.
Kim and Trump have met three times since embarking on their high-stakes nuclear diplomacy in 2018, but negotiations have faltered since their second summit in February last year in Vietnam.
In that summit, the US rejected North Korean demands for significant sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capability.
Kim entered 2020 declaring to bolster his nuclear deterrent in face of “gangster-like” US sanctions and pressure.
Choe’s statement followed a series of similar declarations by the North that it would no longer gift Trump with high-profile meetings he could boast of as his foreign policy achievements unless it gets something substantial in return.
Choe said North Korea has already established a “detailed strategic timetable” for managing what she described as US threats.
“The US is mistaken if it thinks things like negotiations would still work on us,” she said.
The North in recent months has also been ramping up pressure against South Korea, blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory and threatening to abandon a bilateral military agreement aimed at reducing tensions.
It follows months of frustration over Seoul’s unwillingness to defy US-led sanctions and restart joint economic projects that would breathe life into the North’s broken economy.
North Korea’s state media on Friday said Kim, while supervising a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party on Thursday, discussed “important issues related to the external affairs” but did not specify what they were.
During a video conference with European leaders on Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had lobbied hard to help set up the now-stalled negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, also expressed hope that Trump and Kim would meet again before the US election.
US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun is due to visit South Korea next week to discuss stalled talks with North Korea.