North Korea’s Kim sets deadline for summit with the US

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North Korea’s Kim sets deadline for summit with the US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is open to a third summit with US President Donald Trump but that failure to reach mutually acceptable terms risked reviving tensions, state media KCNA said on Friday.

“It is essential for the US to quit its current method and approach us with a new one,” Kim said in a speech to the Supreme People’s Assembly on Friday.

“If it [the United States] keeps thinking that way, it will never be able to move the DPRK even a knuckle nor gain any interests no matter how many times it may sit for talks with the DPRK.”

Kim said he would wait until the end of the year “for the US to make a courageous decision” on another meeting, after his most recent summit with Trump in Vietnam broke down and both sides left without an agreement.

Trump and Kim have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore in June, building good will but failing to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.

Washington has blamed the February deadlock on the North’s demands for sanctions relief in return for limited nuclear disarmament, but Pyongyang said it had wanted only some of the measures eased.

In Hanoi, the US came “to the talks only racking its brain to find ways that are absolutely impracticable” and did “not really ready itself to sit with us face-to-face and settle the problem,” Kim said.

Escalating hostility

Kim said that despite his good relationship with Trump, he would only be interested in attending a third summit if it offered concrete solutions to the dispute. 

“[The US] is further escalating the hostility to us with each passing day despite its suggestion for settling the issue through dialogue,” Kim said.

The current US policy of sanctions and pressure is “as foolish and dangerous an act as trying to put out a fire with oil”.

President Trump, meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in on Friday, said sanctions on North Korea would stay in place. 

On Friday, the KCNA reported that Kim was re-elected as chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the nation’s most important decision-making body, during a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly that praised his “outstanding ideological and theoretical wisdom and experienced and seasoned leadership”.

Experts say the new appointments may be a sign of Kim’s desire to keep recent months of up-and-down nuclear diplomacy alive rather than returning to the threats and weapons tests that characterised 2017, when many feared war on the Korean Peninsula.

But the lack of substantial disarmament commitments from the North and the deepening impasse in nuclear negotiations have raised doubts on whether Kim would ever voluntarily relinquish an arsenal he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival.

Some experts say that it is becoming clear the North intends to turn the talks with the US into a bilateral arms reduction negotiation between two nuclear states, rather than a unilateral process of surrendering its arsenal.

Kim has signed vague statements calling for the “complete denuclearisation” of the peninsula in his meetings with Trump and Moon.

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearisation that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the US removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

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