Sun, Apr 14, 2019 - Page 5 News List

Kim gives conditional nod to summit

‘NOT READY’:Washington came to the talks in Hanoi to find ways that were ‘absolutely impractical,’ raising doubts over its willingness to improve relations, Kim Jong-un said

Reuters, SEOUL

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that the breakdown in talks with the US has raised the risks of reviving tensions, and he is only interested in meeting US President Donald Trump again if Washington comes with the right attitude, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said yesterday.

Kim said that he would wait “till the end of this year” for the US to decide to be more flexible, KCNA said.

“It is essential for the US to quit its current calculation method and approach us with [a] new one,” Kim was quoted as saying in a speech to the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly on Friday.

Trump and Kim have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore in June last year, building goodwill, but failing to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump on Thursday said that he is open to meeting Kim again, but in his speech on Friday, the North Korean leader said that the outcome in Hanoi led him to question the strategy he embraced last year of international engagement and talks with the US.

The Hanoi summit “aroused a strong question if we were right in taking the steps with strategic decision and bold resolution, and evoked vigilance as to the US’ true willingness to improve its relations with the DPRK,” Kim said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In Hanoi, the US came “to the talks only racking its brain to find ways that are absolutely impracticable” and did “not really ready itself to sit with us face to face and settle the problem,” Kim said.

“If it [the US] keeps thinking that way, it will never be able to move the DPRK even a knuckle nor gain any interests, no matter how many times it may sit for talks with the DPRK,” he said.

“We will wait for a bold decision from the US with patience till the end of this year, but I think it will definitely be difficult to get such a good opportunity as the previous summit,” Kim added.

Kim’s comments signaled he would not cling to talks with the US forever, said Kim Dong-yup of Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in South Korea.

“That probably indicates that the North is triggering plans to diversify its diplomatic relations with other countries,” he said.

Kim said that his personal relationship with Trump is still good, but that he had no interest in a third summit if it would be a repeat of Hanoi.

At a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington on Thursday, Trump expressed a willingness for a third summit with Kim, but said that Washington would leave sanctions in place on Pyongyang.

Kim said the US “is further escalating the hostility to us with each passing day, despite its suggestion for settling the issue through dialogue.”

The US policy of sanctions and pressure is “as foolish and dangerous an act as trying to put out fire with oil,” he added.

Still, Kim said he would not hesitate to sign an agreement if it takes into account both countries’ considerations.

South Korea’s Blue House said in a statement that officials would “do what we can in order to maintain the current momentum for dialogue and help negotiations between the US and North Korea resume at an early date.”

Kim said that Washington is coercing South Korea into abiding by sanctions and not pushing forward with inter-Korea projects.

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