North Korea says it sees no point in maintaining Kim-Trump ties

The two leaders first met at a breakthrough summit in Singapore in June 2018, but talks have made little progress.

North Korea''s leader Kim Jong Un (L) and US President Donald Trump shake hands during a meeting on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Secu
North Korea says its sees little point in maintaining the personal relationship between leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump, seen meeting in the Korean Demilitarized Zone in June 2019, if the US continues its 'hostile' policies [File: Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

North Korea sees little use in maintaining a personal relationship between leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump if Washington sticks to hostile policies, state media reported on Friday – two years after the two men held their first summit.

Policies from the US prove Washington remains a long-term threat to the North Korean state, and its people and North Korea will develop more reliable military forces to counter that threat, Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.

Trump and Kim exchanged insults and threats in 2017 as North Korea made large advances in its nuclear and missile programme, and the US responded by leading an international effort to tighten sanctions.

Relations improved significantly around the Singapore summit in June 2018, the first time a sitting US president had met a North Korean leader, but the statement that came out of the meeting was light on specifics.

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A second summit in February 2019 in Vietnam failed to reach a deal because of conflicts over US calls for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons, and North Korean demands for swift sanctions relief.

Ri said in retrospect that the Trump administration appeared to have been focusing only on scoring political points while seeking to isolate and suffocate North Korea, and threatening it with preemptive nuclear strikes and regime change.

“Never again will we provide the US chief executive with another package to be used for achievements without receiving any returns,” he said. “Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise.”

The US Department of State and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Thursday, a State Department spokesperson told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that the US remains committed to dialogue with North Korea, and is open to a “flexible approach to reach a balanced agreement”.

Election pressure

On Thursday, North Korea criticised the US for commenting on inter-Korean affairs, and said Washington should stay quiet if it wants the upcoming US presidential election to go smoothly.

North Korea is likely to try and increase pressure on the US ahead of the November election, said Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for East Asia until early in the Trump administration.

“Trump’s claim to have ‘solved’ the North Korea problem gives them leverage,” he said.

Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korea expert at King’s College London, said Ri’s statement shows North Korea still sees all options on the table, from a proper diplomatic process to further developing its nuclear programme.

“North Korea continues to need a proper deal more than the US,” Pacheco Pardo said on Twitter. “That hasn’t changed.”

Ri said North Korea’s desire to open a new cooperative era runs as deep as ever, but that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is daily taking a turn for the worse.

“The US professes to be an advocate for improved relations with the DPRK, but in fact, it is hell-bent on only exacerbating the situation,” Ri said referring to his country by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Source: Reuters