June 28, 2019 12:13
North Korea on Thursday told South Korea to stay out of its dealings with the U.S., just a day after President Moon Jae-in expressed trust in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's will to denuclearize.
North Korea-U.S. dialogue "is not a matter for South Korean officials to meddle in," said Kwon Jong-gun of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, in a statement carried by the regime's official Korean Central News Agency. Instead, relations with the U.S. "are progressing based on the friendship between our chairman and U.S. president" and "will never be handled through South Korean officials."
Kwon added South Korean officials "are going around saying that some diverse exchanges and behind-the-scenes talks are taking place between the North and South, but nothing of that sort is happening."
Moon on Tuesday told global wire services that the two Koreas are engaging in dialogue through diverse channels.
But Kwon also accused the U.S. of "despicable" behavior by mentioning dialogue with the North while committing "hostile acts." He added "now is not the time" for the Trump administration to insist on dialogue. He said the U.S. must first acquire the "right attitude," "be open to negotiations" and "come up with a proper alternative" to its current approach.
Kim in April set the U.S. a year-end ultimatum for a new approach. "The U.S. will be well advised not to take our repeated warnings as empty words," Kwon said.
It is rare for such fighting talk to come from the Foreign Ministry rather than the United Front Department, which has suffered a wide-ranging purge in the wake of the failed North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi.
The United Front Department liaised with both South Korea and the U.S. in arranging summits last year, but the ministry's new ruse seems to be to isolate South Korea and deal only with Washington.
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