North Korea says the United States administration is aiming to drag out dialog with North Korea all the way to the 2020 presidential election to use it as an advantage, reminding Washington of a deadline set by Pyongyang for the end of this year to take real action.
Ri Thae-song, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs in charge of relations with the US, said that Washington’s call for more talks was “nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US,” state news agency KCNA reported on Tuesday, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name.
Ri warned that North Korea’s year-end deadline for the US to change its “hostile policies” was approaching, and that it was up to Washington to decide what “Christmas gift” would come at its door.
“The DPRK has done its utmost with maximum perseverance not to backtrack from the important steps it has taken on its own initiative,” the Foreign Ministry official said. “What is left to be done now is the US option and it is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
North Korea and the US have been involved in on-and-off diplomacy since 2018. While their leaders have met three times, actual negotiations toward the demilitarization of the Korean Peninsula have snagged.
The North has been under multiple rounds of harsh sanctions by the United Nations (UN) and the US over its nuclear and missile programs. In spite of those sanctions, it has taken several unilateral steps as signs of goodwill in the course of the diplomacy with the US. Washington has, nevertheless, failed to offer any sanctions relief in return.
Pyongyang has set the end of 2019 as the ultimate date until which the US would have time to take action so that diplomacy would come to fruition. Washington has rejected that timeline as artificial.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has warned that he would be finding a “new way” if the US continued with its hostile policies after that date.
In September, US President Donald Trump once again urged Kim in a Twitter message to “get the deal done” and meet him another time. But Trump’s previous meetings with Kim have been considered as mere photo ops, and North Korea has ruled out another “useless” summit with the US president if it receives nothing concrete in return.
With no progress in the talks with the US, the North has already restarted short-range missile testing, which it had suspended unilaterally.