November 20, 2019 09:34
North Korea on Tuesday demanded a complete end to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills as a precondition to resuming denuclearization talks.
Kim Yong-chol, chairman of the North's Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, said in a statement that the U.S. must either stop taking part in military exercises with South Korea or "completely halt" them altogether. Kim also called on the U.S. to promise a "complete and irrevocable" end to what the North says are hostile policies, apparently echoing the U.S.' call for "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization.
"The U.S. always calls for negotiation for denuclearization, but there is no room to say about the negotiation before the complete and irrevocable withdrawal of its hostile policy toward [North Korea], the root cause of the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula," Kim said.
Experts said North Korea appears to be demanding rewards for halting nuclear and long-range missile tests, which U.S. President Donald Trump has touted as a major diplomatic achievements ahead of the presidential election next year.
Kim Myong-gil, North Korea's representative at working-level talks with the U.S., told the official [North] Korean Central News Agency that dialogue is "difficult" unless the U.S. withdraws its hostile policies. Kim also dubbed the Swedish government's efforts to act as a mediator "idiotic" and added that the U.S. must stop pretending to be interested in dialogue by using another country.
Meanwhile, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chol met with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Washington the previous day.
They reportedly talked about the current stalemate with North Korea including the situation surrounding halted tours to the North's Mt. Kumgang resort after the North threatened to demolish South Korean-funded facilities there.
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