North Korea says 'no intention' to talk to U.S.

Elias Hubbard
July 8, 2020

Those comments came just as Stephen Biegun, the US deputy secretary of state, was on his way to Seoul for talks with South Korean officials.

"It is just the time for [South Korea] to stop meddling in others' affairs but it seems there is no cure or prescription for its bad habit", said Kwon Jong Gun, director-general for US affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry.

"Explicitly speaking once again, we have no intention to sit face to face with the USA", he added.

Trump and Kim have met three times since June 2018 to reach a deal on dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but little progress has been made due to the gap over the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization and sanctions relief by Washington.

Biegun will travel to Seoul and Tokyo from July 7-10 to meet his counterparts there and continue "close allied coordination" on bilateral and global issues as well as the DPRK, according to a statement released by the U.S. State Department.

The coronavirus complicated Mr Biegun's visit in a more personal way as well.

Last month, North Korea abruptly raised tensions with South Korea and blew up a joint liaison office, just on its side of the border, before just as suddenly suspending plans for unspecified military actions. But their second summit in 2019 in Vietnam, and subsequent working-level negotiations fell apart.

State Department official Stephen Biegun is shown at a previous meeting with South Korean officials in Seoul on December 16, 2019. They say North Korea likely doesn't want to make any major commitments or concessions when there is a chance USA leadership could change.

Kwon Jong-gun, the North Korean foreign ministry's director-general handling US affairs, made the remark in a statement, saying there are still people talking about brokering a meeting between the USA and the North even after First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made clear that the North won't hold talks with the U.S.

Without naming him outright, Kwon also took a jab at South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who in a video conference with European leaders last week expressed hope that President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would meet again before the US elections in November.

Professor Yang Moo-jin from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Mr Kwon's statement reflected lingering inter-Korean tensions and Pyongyang's view that nuclear issues should be discussed only with Washington. The DPRK has also cut off all communication lines with the ROK.

"We feel sorry to see [the South] trying so hard to become the 'mediator, ' but it may try as much as it wants if it cherishes so strong a wish to try it to the end. Time will show whether its efforts will succeed or it will only suffer a loss and ridicule".

Biegun is slated to hold talks with South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, Lee Do Hoon, as well as Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha and First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei Young.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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