Monday, 9 Dec 2019

U.S. Offers North Korea ‘Act of Good Will.’ Not Enough, North Says.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Tuesday that the United States’ decision to postpone a joint military drill with South Korea was not enough of an incentive for it to return to the negotiating table, and that it would not discuss denuclearization until Washington ended its “hostile policy.”

On Sunday, the United States defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, and his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, together announced​ that the allies would postpone a joint air force drill scheduled for later this month. They described it as “an act of good will” aimed at bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table.

But the North remained unsatisfied.

“We demand that the U.S. quit the drill or stop it once and for all,” Kim Yong-chol, chairman of the North’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday. “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.”

Mr. Kim said​, “The U.S. should not dream of the negotiations for denuclearization before dropping its hostile policy” toward the North.

North Korea’s demand that Washington first build confidence and remove all threats to its “security and development” before nuclear talks can resume is a harder position than the country has taken so far.

In its talks with North Korea, the Trump administration at first demanded that the North dismantle all its nuclear warheads and production facilities before international sanctions against it are lifted.

After that approach failed, Washington began trying to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table​ by suggesting that it can discuss steps aimed at improving ties and building trust with the North together with the denuclearization of the country. ​North Korea met with American negotiators in Stockholm early last month to test the new approach, but the meeting ended in just hours without producing an agreement, ​even ​on when to meet again.

The ​North Korean ​statement ​on Tuesday ​was ​​a pointed rebuff of President Trump, although it did not mention him by name.

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Mr. Trump urged North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to “act quickly, get the deal done,” and hinted that the two leaders might be able to hold another summit meeting. “I am the only one who can get you where you have to be,” Mr. Trump wrote, adding, “See you soon!”

But on Tuesday, North Korea ​accused the United States of merely trying to buy time, though its leader has given Washington until the end of the year to propose a solution that can satisfy the North. ​

Time, the North said in the statement, is on its side. ​

“We have nothing pressing and have no intention to sit on the table with the tricky U.S.,” it said.

In recent ​weeks, North Korea has ​​issued a series of statements​, as well as conducting numerous missile and rocket tests, to put pressure on Washington as American negotiators worked to bring the country back to ​negotiations.

On Sunday, its Foreign Ministry said North Korea had “no willingness to meet” the United States​ because it recently passed a resolution against human rights abuses in the North through the United Nations.

On Monday, Kim Kye-gwan, adviser to the North’s Foreign Ministry, responded to Mr. Trump’s Twitter post on Sunday by ​suggesting that the American leader has been negotiating in bad faith.

He said North Korea had offered a lot, like its suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests, in return ​for three summit meetings with ​Mr. Trump. The Trump administration, he said, has given the North little, as Mr. Trump repeatedly boasts of progress in reducing the threats of North Korea.

“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” Kim Kye-gwan said. “As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can boast of, but get compensation for the successes that President Trump is proud of as his administrative achievements.”

Mr. Trump and Kim Jong-un held their first summit meeting in June last year in Singapore, signing a broadly worded agreement for North Korea to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in return for “new” relations and security guarantees from Washington.

But when the two leaders met again in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, and again on the inter-Korean border in June, they failed to agree on how to put the Singapore deal into effect.

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