Fri, Jun 28, 2019 - Page 5 News List

N Korea slams South for ‘meddling’ in US talks

AFP, SEOUL

Protesters near the US embassy in Seoul yesterday pop balloons during a rally ahead of US President Donald Trump’s planned visit to South Korea.

Photo: EPA-EFE

North Korea yesterday told the South to stop “meddling” in nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington, denying South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s assertion that dialogue was under way between the two Koreas.

“The reality is the contrary,” North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs senior official Kwon Jong-gun said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

“The South Korean authorities would better mind their own internal business,” he said, in a stinging rebuke to the South days before US President Donald Trump arrives in Seoul.

Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been stalled since February, when a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un collapsed in Hanoi, as the pair failed to agree on what the North would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.

The two sides have had minimal contact since, aside from exchanges of letters between their leaders.

The dovish Moon on Wednesday said that “behind-the-scenes talks” were going on between the US and the North with a view to preparing for a third summit.

“Also under way is dialogue between the South and the North through diverse channels,” he said in a written interview with leading media.

However, Department of American Affairs Director-General Kwon denied that “various forms of exchanges and closed-door meetings” were under way between the Koreas.

Southern authorities were trying to “make their presence felt” by posing as a mediator, he said.

Dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington “would not open by itself,” he said, but if the North had to contact Washington, it would use “the liaison channel already under operation.”

“The South Korean authorities have nothing to meddle in,” he added.

Moon, who favors engagement with Pyongyang, brokered last year’s talks between Trump and Kim, and has held three summits with the North Korean leader.

There was even speculation last autumn that Kim could visit Seoul, but Pyongyang has repeatedly criticized the South since the Hanoi summit, even though Seoul recently approved US$8 million in food aid for its neighbor.

Trump is due to fly to Seoul on Saturday for a summit with Moon on Sunday.

The North’s statement also reminded Washington that it did not have much time left until Kim’s end-of-year deadline to adopt “a correct method of calculation” to revive dialogue.

“The US repeatedly talks about resumption of dialogue like a parrot without considering any realistic proposal that would fully conform with the interests of both sides,” Kwon said.

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