North Korea pulls out of South Korea talks over military drill

North Korea pulls out of South Korea talks over military drill

May 16, 2018   07:52 am

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North Korea has pulled out of high-level talks with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday and cast doubt over next month’s landmark summit with the US, in response to joint military exercises being conducted by the two allies.

State media on Wednesday said “the exercise targeting us . . . is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean peninsula”.

“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities,” said the state-run Korea Central News Agency.

The rhetoric reflects a return to North Korea’s usual hectoring tone, which had been remarkably calm as detente unfolded over recent months.

The report from KCNA will compound western scepticism about Pyongyang’s sincerity about its desire for peace, and that it is seeking to use diplomacy to manipulate its adversaries.

Kim Jong Un, the country’s supreme leader, was set to meet Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore for a summit that the US president hoped would spur the denuclearisation of the reclusive regime.

Earlier this month, Mr Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, with both leaders reaffirming their desire for reduced hostilities and a peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

North Korea is believed to maintain an arsenal of about 60 nuclear devices and is close to mastering the technology needed to load those weapons on to long-range missiles capable of reaching the US.

North Korea on Wednesday said: ”There is a limit in showing goodwill and offering opportunity.”

“We cannot but take a step of suspending the North-South high-level talks scheduled on May 16 under the prevailing seriously awful situation that a mad-cap North-targeted war and confrontation racket are being kicked up in South Korea.”

The source of the flare-up is apparently ongoing joint US-South Korea military exercises, which Pyongyang says involve “over 100 fighters of various missions including B-52 strategic nuclear bombers and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters”.

The manoeuvres appeared to be routine exercises and not part of annual war games that regularly inflame Pyongyang.

After Pyongyang issued the warning, the US department of state said it continued to plan for the Singapore summit.

The White House said: “We are aware of the South Korean media report. The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to co-ordinate closely with our allies.”

Source: Financial Times

-Agencies

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