A top adviser to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that Pyongyang will not engage in the type of talks seen last year, when Kim met with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi, despite the rapport the two leaders have developed.
In a statement published in English by North Korean state media, Kim Kye Gwan said Pyongyang believed it has been “deceived by the US” and said the US has wasted the last eighteen months, in which little progress has been made on denuclearization.
“We have been deceived by the US, being caught in the dialogue with it for over one year and a half, and that was the lost time for us,” the adviser said.
His comments come amid increasing uncertainty about the future of any nuclear talks between the two states, after an initial burst of rapprochement which saw Kim Jong Un meet with both Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. In a New Year’s address, Kim said his country will “never” denuclearize if the US does not retreat from what North Korea regards as Washington’s “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang.
Kim Kye Gwan’s statement appeared to throw cold water on any chance of a letter Trump sent Kim on his birthday had of reopening the door to diplomacy – as messages between the two leaders have throughout the diplomatic process.
“Although Chairman Kim Jong Un has a good personal feelings about President Trump, they are, in the true sense of the word, ‘personal’,” Kim Kye Gwan said. “There will never be such negotiations as that in Vietnam, in which we proposed exchanging a core nuclear facility of the country for the lift of some UN sanctions in a bid to lessen the sufferings of the peaceable people even a bit.”
The adviser also chastised South Korea, accusing Seoul of tempting to re-insert itself in the role of mediator between Pyongyang and Washington by announcing that Trump had asked the longtime US ally to help deliver his birthday message.
Kim Kye Gwan said that North Korea had already received the greeting. He said there is a “special liaison channel” for the two leaders to communicate and hinted South Korea was unaware it existed.
“To forge personal relations between heads of state is a diplomatically natural thing between states,” the statement said. “However, it is somehow presumptuous for south Korea to meddle in the personal relations between Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un and President Trump.”
Duyeon Kim, a senior adviser at the International Crisis Group and North Korea expert, said the statement shows “Pyongyang has raised the price for even resuming talks.”
“Negotiations, if they ever resume, will be much more difficult,” she said. “They’re trying to make it sound like they’re not desperate for talks and that they can survive without Washington’s help. Unfortunately, this is quite true – North Korea has proven to be very resilient and they can trudge along and work towards their economic and nuclear objectives.”