June 27, 2019
South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers his speech during a ceremony marking Korean Memorial Day at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, June 6, 2019.
By VOA News
North Korea says it will not rely on South Korea as a go-between in any further negotiations with the United States to break a deadlock over the North’s nuclear weapons program.
In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency Thursday, Kwon Jong Gun, the head of the U.S. affairs department in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, dismissed claims by South Korean President Moon Jae-in that Seoul was holding informal talks between Pyongyang and Washington aimed at bringing the two sides back to the negotiating table.
Kwon said it would be better for the South Korean authorities to “mind their own internal business.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump signed a vaguely worded agreement at their historic summit in Singapore last year for the North to denuclearize. But working-level talks broke down after a February summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended in no deal.
Kim was unhappy with the pace of U.S. sanctions relief, while Trump was upset Kim would not commit to completely giving up his nuclear program.
North Korea has given the United States until the end of the year to offer a more flexible deal. Kwon said the bilateral talks will not “be held by themselves” if Washington continues to repeat the “resumption of dialogue like a parrot” without coming forward with any “realistic proposals.”
But while nuclear talks between U.S. and North Korean officials are stalled, Kim and Trump have been exchanging letters and pictures for the past year, and both men say their relationship remains warm.
Kwon’s remarks came just days after President Trump’s planned visit to Seoul after attending the G20 summit in Japan.