News ID: 261710
Published: 0319 GMT November 17, 2019
No plans to talk unless “hostile” US policies come under discussion: Pyongyang

US delays army drills with South Korea in nod to North Korea

US delays army drills with South Korea in nod to North Korea
AP

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday the United States and South Korea have indefinitely postponed a joint military exercise in an “act of goodwill” toward North Korea, as North Foreign Ministry issued a written statement of defiance.

Esper announced the postponement of military exercise at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo. They were in Bangkok to attend an Asia defense ministers’ conference.

The US defense secretary insisted the postponement was not a concession to North Korea, but rather an attempt to “keep the door open” to diplomacy to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

North Korea hardly seemed ready to reciprocate, AP wrote.

Shortly after Esper and Jeong spoke, the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a written statement of defiance, saying it has no plans to negotiate over its nuclear programs, even if talks were to resume, unless the US offers to first discuss the withdrawal of its “hostile” policies against Pyongyang.

North Korea’s statement also criticized Washington’s support of a recent United Nations resolution condemning the North’s widespread human rights violations, saying that the resolution shows continued US intent to isolate the North and destroy its political system.

The North also has harshly criticized US-South Korean military drills as provocative and as preparations for an invasion.

The move came as Japan’s defense minister told Esper “no one could be optimistic about” North’s behavior.

The statement by Japan’s defense chief, Taro Kono, was an illustration of the difficulties facing the US as it struggles to resume talks with North Korea on its nuclear activities and missiles. Talks launched by President Donald Trump in 2018 have stalled with no resumption in sight.

Although the US military for years as called its joint military exercises with South Korea an important means of keeping troops and commanders ready for combat on short notice, Trump has called them a waste of money and a provocation to the North.

“I see this as a good-faith effort by the United States and the Republic of Korea to enable peace, to shape ... to facilitate a political agreement — a deal, if you will — that leads to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Esper told reporters.

Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore in June last year, and agreed to improve relations and work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But the second summit in Hanoi broke down after the two sides failed to narrow differences between a US demand for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met for the first time in Singapore in June last year, and agreed to improve relations and work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But the second summit in Hanoi broke down after the two sides failed to narrow differences between a US demand for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.

 

 

   
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