North Korea signaled Wednesday that it was not interested in a “one-sided” summit with the U.S. in which it would be pressured to give up its nuclear weapons, The Associated Press reported, citing a top North Korean official. It was the second indication from Pyongyang within a matter of hours that it was reconsidering its positions.
The statement from Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, was issued through the North’s state-run Central News Agency. It came just hours after the Yonhap News Agency, the Seoul-based media outlet, reported that the North had abruptly canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday and was considering withdrawing altogether from the highly anticipated meeting between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, over ongoing military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.
It was unclear whether North Korea might seriously contemplate canceling the summit, tentatively set for June 12 in Singapore, or whether it was simply venting over U.S. rhetoric and perhaps also seeking a stronger bargaining position.
In his statement, Kim Kye Gwan criticized comments from Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, and other U.S. officials who have been talking about how the North should provide a “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement” of its nuclear weapons program, according to The AP.
“We will appropriately respond to the Trump administration if it approaches the North Korea-U.S. summit meeting with a truthful intent to improve relations,” Kim Kye Gwan said, adding: “But we are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes, and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-U.S. summit meeting.”