President Donald Trump is fond of crediting his “maximum pressure” campaign on North Korea for convincing Pyongyang to take part in talks on denuclearization.
An official in North Korea, however, said Trump administration claims that sanctions and political pressure from Washington were what led to Pyongyang’s denuclearization pledge are “misleading” — and could even scuttle the planned negotiations.
Pyongyang’s KCNA news agency cited a foreign ministry spokesman who warned Sunday that the US claims actually undermine peace talks on the Korean Peninsula.
“This act cannot be construed otherwise than a dangerous attempt to ruin the hardly-won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one,” the spokesman said, in comments that come mere weeks ahead of an unprecedented bilateral summit between the US president and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un.
Last month, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed at a summit meeting to work toward agreement to officially end the decades-long Korean War. In a joint statement, the leaders said their goal is “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula” — but they avoided specifics about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons. Previous summits in 2000 and 2007 similarly raised optimism, but ultimately failed to bring about lasting gains.
Despite the spotty success of past talks, the Trump administration already is garnering praise from some corners for the pursuit of a Korean peace deal. Eighteen GOP House members have gone so far as to nominate the president for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“Since taking office, President Trump has worked tirelessly to apply maximum pressure on North Korea to end its illicit weapons programs,” the lawmakers wrote, saying that he is playing a pivotal role in “bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula.”
The comments on Sunday represent rare public comment from Pyongyang about the planned talks since Trump and Kim agreed to a meeting in March. Just last fall, the risk of a nuclear war with North Korea seemed possible, as the North repeatedly launched long-range missiles, and Kim and Trump exchanged insults. Now the United States and North Korea leaders are expected to meet although the official date and location have not been set.