PYONGYANG: North Korea on Wednesday abruptly postponed scheduled high level inter-Korean talks and threatened to pull-out of the summit with the US, taking issue with the ongoing South Korea-US joint military drill and “unfair” demands on denuclearization.
According to Seoul’s Ministry of Unification, the North’s chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country Ri Son-gwon delivered a message shortly after midnight. In it, Ri criticized the drills and indefinitely postponed the high-level talks which were only hours away. The ministry expressed regret over the North’s unilateral decision, saying that the move does not fall in line with the spirit of the Panmunjeom Declaration.
Later in the day, a top North Korean official issued a statement saying that Pyongyang would have no choice but to reconsider the US-North Korea summit if denuclearization is demanded of the regime unfairly.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency lambasted the Max Thunder drills as a rehearsal for invasion and “an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive development on the Korean Peninsula.”
The announcement of North Korea’s unilateral decision to postpone the high-level inter-Korean talks took the allies by surprise, as the North had appeared to accept the drills as part of the South Korea-US alliance.
In response, Cheong Wa Dae said that the government was working to decipher North Korea‘s true message, and its intentions for delaying the inter-Korean dialogue which was scheduled to be held earlier in the day.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also discussed the postponement with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the phone, explaining Seoul’s position and highlighting the government’s resolve to implement the agreements made at last month’s inter-Korean summit.