clear
Thursday October 18th, 2018 12:19PM

Seoul pushes for successful Trump-Kim talks as North warns

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea strongly criticized South Korea over ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises on Thursday and said it will not return to talks with its rival until Seoul resolves its grievances.

The comments came a day after North Korea canceled a high-level meeting with the South because of the drills and threatened to scrap next month's historic meeting between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump, saying it has no interest in a "one-sided" affair meant to pressure it to abandon its nuclear weapons.

The North's threat cooled what had been an unusual flurry of diplomatic moves from a country that last year conducted a provocative series of weapons tests that had many fearing the region was on the edge of war. It also underscored South Korea's delicate role as an intermediary between the U.S. and North Korea and raised questions over Seoul's claim that Kim has a genuine interest in dealing away his nukes.

Analysts said it's unlikely that North Korea intends to scuttle all diplomacy. More likely, they said, is that it wants to gain leverage ahead of the talks between Kim and Trump, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

In quotes published by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, Ri Son Gwon, chairman of a North Korean agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs, accused South Korea's government of being "an ignorant and incompetent group devoid of the elementary sense of the present situation, of any concrete picture of their dialogue partner and of the ability to discern the present trend of the times."

Ri said the "extremely adventurous" U.S.-South Korean military drills were practicing strikes on strategic targets in North Korea, and accused the South of allowing "human scum to hurt the dignity" of the North's supreme leadership.

Ri was apparently referring to a news conference held at South Korea's National Assembly on Monday by Thae Yong Ho, a former senior North Korean diplomat who defected to the South in 2016. Thae said it's highly unlikely that Kim would ever fully relinquish his nuclear weapons or agree to a robust verification regime.

Ri said it will be difficult to resume talks with South Korea "unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the North-South high-level talks is settled."

Hours earlier, South Korea said it was pushing to reset the high-level talks with North Korea and planning to communicate closely with the U.S. and North Korea to increase the chances of a successful summit between Trump and Kim on resolving the nuclear standoff.

The South urged the North to faithfully abide by the agreements reached between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in their summit last month, where they issued a vague vow on the "complete denuclearization" of the peninsula and pledged permanent peace.

Senior officials from the two Koreas were to sit down at a border village on Wednesday to discuss how to implement their leaders' agreements to reduce military tensions along their heavily fortified border and improve overall ties, but the North canceled the meeting.

In Washington, Trump said the U.S. hasn't been notified about the North Korean threat to cancel the summit with Kim.

Annual military drills between Washington and Seoul have long been a major source of contention between the Koreas, and analysts have wondered whether their continuation would hurt the detente that, since an outreach by Kim in January, has replaced the insults and threats of war. Much larger springtime drills took place last month without the North's typically fiery condemnation or accompanying weapons tests, though Washington and Seoul toned down those exercises.

The North's news agency said the U.S. aircraft mobilized for the current drills include nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and stealth F-22 fighter jets, two of the U.S. military assets it has previously said are aimed at launching nuclear strikes on the North. The allies say the drills are defensive in nature.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said F-22s are involved in the drills, but not B-52s. Ministry spokesman Lee Jin-woo said B-52s had never been part of plans for this year's drills, focused on pilot training, denying media speculation that Washington and Seoul withdrew the bombers in reaction to North Korea's allegation.

Kim told visiting South Korean officials in March that he "understands" the drills would take place and expressed hope that they'll be modified once the situation on the peninsula stabilizes, according to the South Korean government.

Despite Kim's outreach, some experts have been skeptical that he would completely give up a nuclear program that he has pushed so hard to build. The North previously vowed to continue nuclear development unless the United States pulls its 28,500 troops out of South Korea and withdraws its so-called "nuclear umbrella" security guarantee for South Korea and Japan.

Wednesday's threat could also be targeted at showing a domestic audience that Kim is willing to stand up to Washington. Kim has repeatedly told his people that his nukes are a "powerful treasured sword" that can smash U.S. hostility.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Rockets rout Warriors 127-105 to tie series at 1-all
James Harden and Eric Gordon had 27 points each to lead a balanced scoring attack and the Houston Rockets routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference finals at one game apiece
11:30PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Reeling Dodgers struggling against NL's worst teams
Los Angeles Dodgers struggling against NL's worst teams, searching for answers
11:29PM ( 11 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Baby Braves face Lester, Cubs; Archer vs Angels
LEADING OFF: Baby Braves face Lester, Cubs; Herrera still hot for surging Phils; Maxwell can't cross border; Archer vs Angels in Anaheim fish fry
11:28PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
S. Korea pushes for successful Trump-Kim talks
South Korea says it will communicate closely with Washington, Pyongyang to increase chances of successful talks between Trump and Kim
10:55PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Malaysia police raid ex-PM house as part of corruption probe
Malaysian police have searched former Prime Minister Najib Razak's house, reportedly part of a money-laundering investigation linked to a state investment fund that is being investigated abroad
9:23PM ( 2 hours ago )
Lars von Trier on his controversial Cannes return
Once 'persona non grata,' Lars von Trier has returned to Cannes with more provocation in the serial killer drama 'The House That Jack Built'
5:53PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP World News
Rockets rout Warriors 127-105 to tie series at 1-all
James Harden and Eric Gordon had 27 points each to lead a balanced scoring attack and the Houston Rockets routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference finals at one game apiece
11:30PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Reeling Dodgers struggling against NL's worst teams
Los Angeles Dodgers struggling against NL's worst teams, searching for answers
11:29PM ( 11 minutes ago )
LEADING OFF: Baby Braves face Lester, Cubs; Archer vs Angels
LEADING OFF: Baby Braves face Lester, Cubs; Herrera still hot for surging Phils; Maxwell can't cross border; Archer vs Angels in Anaheim fish fry
11:28PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Unapologetic Trump Jr.: Not troubled that I met with Russian
Donald Trump Jr. told a Senate panel that he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election
11:25PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Thousands of North Carolina teachers marched. Now what?
North Carolina politicians and the public are waiting to see what happens next after thousands of teachers rallied to demand increased spending on public schools
11:20PM ( 19 minutes ago )