SEOUL, July 16 (BERNAMA-NNN-YONHAP) -- North Korea warned Tuesday that the agreed-upon resumption of working-level nuclear talks with the United States would be affected if the U.S. goes ahead with joint military exercises with South Korea.
A spokesman of the North’s foreign ministry made the remark, referring to the 19-2 Dong Maeng exercise slated for next month. The remark indicates the North could reconsider the agreement to resume working-level talks if the planned exercise takes place.
The North has long denounced such exercises as a rehearsal for invasion of the country.
“If the military exercise really goes ahead, it would affect the DPRK-U.S. working-level talks,” the spokesman said, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “We will formulate our decision on the opening of the DPRK-U.S. working-level talks, while keeping watch over the U.S. move hereafter.”
DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reached the agreement to resume working-level talks when they held a surprise meeting at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30.
In response to the North’s statement on the resumption of working-level talks with Washington, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha stressed that the leaders of the U.S. and the North have agreed to re-launch the talks.
“(We) expect that (the working-level talks) would resume at an early date,” Kang told reporters upon arrival from her trip to Africa.
In a separate statement earlier in the day, the North’s foreign ministry said Pyongyang is running out of reasons to stick to the promises it made with the United States as Washington is not implementing its own promises.
“Less than a month now since the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting in Panmunjom, the U.S. is going to resume joint military exercise which it directly committed to suspend at the highest level,” the statement said.
The North said it is “clearly a breach of the main spirit” of the June 12, 2018, declaration signed by Trump and Kim, and “undisguised pressure” on Pyongyang.
“Our discontinuation of the nuclear and ICBM tests and the U.S. suspension of joint military exercises are, to all its intents and purposes, commitments made to improve bilateral relations. They are not a legal document inscribed on a paper,” it said, in an apparent warning that it might not stick to the pledges.
The criticism came as the U.S. is pushing to hold working-level talks with the North for the nuclear negotiations which have been stalled since the collapse of the Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim in February.
According to diplomatic sources earlier this week, Washington has proposed to the North to hold a working-level meeting, but Pyongyang has yet to respond.