North Korea is marking the two-year anniversary of the first summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump by vowing to build up its armed forces so it can “cope with the long-term military threats from the U.S.”
The comments from Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon, published in state media on Friday, come as he also said the North would never again gift Trump with high-profile meetings and concessions he could boast as foreign policy achievements unless it gets something substantial in return.
“The question is whether there will be a need to keep holding hands shaken in Singapore, as we see that there is nothing of factual improvement to be made in the DPRK-U.S. relations simply by maintaining personal relations between our supreme leadership and the U.S. president,” Ri was quoted as saying.
In this June 12, 2018, photo, U.S. President Donald Trump stands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting on Sentosa Island, in Singapore. (AP)
“Never again will we provide the U.S. chief executive with another package to be used for (political) achievements without receiving any returns,” he added. “Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise.”
Ri claimed the past two years of diplomacy have only revealed that the U.S. continues to pursue “regime change” in Pyongyang and threatens the North with the prospects of a preemptive nuclear strike and “isolation and suffocation.”
“The secure strategic goal of the DPRK is to build up more reliable force to cope with the long-term military threats from the U.S.,” he added.
In this June 30, 2019 photo, Trump meets with Kim Jong Un at the North Korean side of the border at the village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone. (AP)
In their 2018 summit in Singapore, the first-ever meeting between active leaders of the two countries, Kim and Trump agreed to improve bilateral relations and issued a statement on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.
But negotiations faltered during a second summit in February 2019, after the U.S. rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions’ relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North’s nuclear capabilities.
Trump and Kim met for a third time last June at the inter-Korean border, but a subsequent working-level meeting broke down over what the North Koreans described as the Americans’ “old stance and attitude.”
Kim, who unilaterally suspended nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests during talks with Washington and Seoul, entered the new year vowing to bolster his nuclear deterrent. The North in recent months has conducted a series of short-range missile tests.
Trump and Kim shake hands during their 2019 meeting. (AP/KCNA)
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In addition, North Korea has suspended virtually all cooperation with South Korea while pressuring Seoul to defy U.S.-led international sanctions and restart inter-Korean economic projects that would breathe life into the North’s struggling economy.
It also has threatened to end an inter-Korean military agreement reached in 2018 while expressing anger over South Korea’s inability to stop activists from floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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