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North Korea threatens to cancel US summit

AFP  |  Seoul 

North threatened today to cancel the forthcoming summit between and if seeks to push into unilaterally giving up its nuclear arsenal.

It also cancelled high-level talks due Wednesday with over the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the and South Korea, denouncing the drills as a "rude and wicked provocation".

It is a sudden and dramatic return to the the rhetoric of the past by Pyongyang, after months of rapid diplomatic rapprochement on the peninsula.

"If the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue," Gwan said in a statement carried by

In that case, he added, would have to "reconsider" its participation at the summit, due in on June 12.

The North's arsenal is expected to be at the top of the agenda of the historic talks, but has long insisted it needs the weapons to defend itself against invasion by the US.

is pressing for its complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation. But so far the North has not given any public indication of what concessions it is offering, beyond euphemistic commitments to denuclearisation of the "Korean peninsula".

Pyongyang had "made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearisation is to put an end to anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States", Kim said.

In the past, Pyongyang has demanded the withdrawal of the US troops stationed in the South to protect it from its neighbour, and an end to Washington's nuclear umbrella over its security ally.

The also blasted US John Bolton's talk of a "Libyan model" for North Korean denuclearisation.

It was a "sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of or Iraq", he said. "I cannot suppress indignation at such moves of the US, and harbour doubt about the US sincerity."

The North has long said it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against a US invasion. After giving up his atomic programme, Libyan was killed in an uprising backed by NATO bombing.

Minister Kim also dismissed offers by US -- who has visited Pyongyang twice in recent weeks, coming back the second time with three released US detainees - for US economic aid if the North denuclearises.

"We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction and will not at all make such a deal in future," Kim said.

In recent weeks, as well as an eye-catching summit with the South's last month in the Demilitarised Zone, Kim has twice met Chinese and Pyongyang has announced it will destroy its next week.

Analysts said Pyongyang was now trying to redefine the terms of the debate. "It's a diplomatic tactic," Kim Hyun-wook, at the National Diplomatic Academy, told AFP, calling it "brinkmanship to change the US position".

"It looks like was pushed into accepting US demands for 'denuclearisation-first' but is now trying to change its position after normalising North Korea-relations and securing economic assistance," he added.

"The classic North Korean tightrope diplomacy between the US and has begun." US officials have repeatedly claimed credit for Washington's "maximum pressure" policy for bringing Pyongyang to the negotiating table.

of the for International Studies said Pyongyang had been irritated by the "triumphalist tone".

"The North Koreans aren't happy with what they're seeing and hearing," he said. "There is still a yawning gulf between expectations for diplomacy in Pyongyang and Washington, "

Earlier KCNA denounced the Max Thunder joint military exercises being held between the US and South as a "rude and wicked provocation", and said it had received a message cancelling planned high-level talks "indefinitely".

The two-week drills started last Friday and involves some 100 aircraft from the two allies, including stealth fighter jets.

Pyongyang's move was "regrettable", said Baik Tae-hyun, adding it "contradicts the fundamental spirit and purpose of the Panmunjom Declaration".

Hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War stopped with a ceasefire, leaving the two halves of the peninsula divided by the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) and still technically at war.

The North has spent decades developing its atomic arsenal and missiles capable of reaching the US, earning itself multiple rounds of resolutions, while Trump and Kim traded personal insults and threats of war last year.

Relations underwent a sudden turnaround as Moon used February's in the South to talks between and Pyongyang.

Washington said it will continue to plan the meeting in on June 12, with State Department telling reporters it had received "no notification" of a position change by

The exercises were "not provocative" and would continue, she added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 16 2018. 09:35 IST