The White House today said it is proceeding with the preparations for a meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un notwithstanding Pyongyang's threat to cancel the historic summit on June 12, alleging that America was trying to push it "into a corner" on nuclear disarmament.
A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said North Korea would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear programme.
In the meeting on June 12 in Singapore, the two countries were expected to discuss ways to implement their leaders' recent agreements to reduce military tensions along their heavily fortified border and improve their overall ties.
The statement that comes after a brief hiatus in the war of words between Trump and Kim is likely to mar efforts towards building a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.
Reacting to the reports from Pyongyang, the White House saud it was "still hopeful" the summit will proceed despite North Korea's threat to cancel it.
"At the same time ... we've been prepared that these might be tough negotiations."
"The president is ready if the meeting takes place.
And if it doesn't, we will continue the maximum pressure campaign that has been ongoing," she added.
Earlier, the State Department too said it was going ahead with preparations for the summit as planned earlier.
"We have not heard anything from that government or the Government of South Korea to indicate that we would not continue conducting these exercises or that we would not continue planning for our meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un next month," she told reporters.
According to Col Rob Manning, the Pentagon Spokesperson, South Korean and US military forces are currently engaged in the recurring, annual South Korea-US drills, to include exercises Foal Eagle 2018 and Max Thunder 2018.
"These exercises are part of the ROK-US Alliance's routine, annual training programme to maintain a foundation of military readiness," he said.
"The purpose of the training is to enhance the ROK-US Alliance's ability to defend the ROK and enhance inter-operability and readiness. While we will not discuss specifics, the defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed," Manning said.
The State Department refuted the allegations that these exercises are provocative in nature.
"They're certainly not provocative. These are things that we do all around the world with many of our partners and allies. These are things that have occurred for decades and decades," Nauert said.
"I don't think he's picking up the phone and begging anybody to do anything at this point. We are operating under the idea and the notion that the president's meeting is going forward with Chairman Kim next month," Nauert said in response to a question.
"The joint exercise is a reflection of the invariable stand of the US and South Korea to persist in the 'maximum pressure and sanctions' against DPRK (North Korea)," it said.
DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which is more commonly known as North Korea.
Meanwhile, North Korea also cancelled its planned high-level inter-Korean talks with South Korea due to the South Korea-US military exercises.
"We cannot but take a step of suspending the North-South high-level talks scheduled on May 16 under the prevailing seriously awful situation," the KCNA said.
North Korea held the South Korean authorities "wholly accountable" for the scuttled North-South talks and unease in the North-South relations.
"The US will have to think twice about the fate of the DPRK-US summit now on high agenda before a provocative military racket against the DPRK in league with the south Korean authorities," the statement said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)