By Joyce Lee and Sangmi Cha
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Monday it was not interested in meaningless talks with the United States just so President Donald Trump had something to boast about, urging an end to what it called a policy of hostility if the United States wanted dialogue.
The comment by senior North Korean official Kim Kye Gwan, who is a former vice foreign minister, came after Trump on the weekend called on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to “act quickly” and hinted at another meeting.
Kim, in a statement carried by the state KCNA news agency, said he had seen the Nov. 17 Twitter post by Trump signalling another summit but added that little had improved despite three meetings between the two leaders since June last year.
“We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us,” he said.
“As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can boast of, but get compensation for the successes that President Trump is proud of as his administrative achievements,” Kim said.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim met for the first time in a landmark summit in Singapore in June last year, to push forward negotiations the United States hopes will lead to North Korea’s dismantling of its nuclear and missile programmes, in exchange for the lifting of punishing international sanctions.
The talks have made no significant progress since a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed in Vietnam in February, even though the two leaders agreed in June, at a third meeting, to reopen negotiations.
In April, Kim set a year-end deadline for the United States to show more flexibility, raising concern North Korea could resume nuclear and long-range missile testing, which it has suspended since 2017.
Kim Kye Gwan said the United States must make a decisive move to abandon its hostile policy if it genuinely wanted dialogue. He did not elaborate.
In his Twitter message, Trump urged Kim Jong Un, to “get the deal done”, signing off “See you soon!”
The message came hours after the United States and South Korea announced they were postponing military exercises to bolster the stalled peace push.
North Korea denounces such exercises as a preparation for invasion. On Sunday, it also said a recent U.N. resolution on its human rights conditions was an obstacle to new U.S. talks.
Asked about the North Korean remarks, a senior U.S. defense official said Washington had “left the door open” to Pyongyang.
“Their attitude so far has not been helpful. Hopefully they’ll see that this is a historic opportunity for them,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper also discussed North Korea with Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on Monday in Bangkok and urged Beijing to encourage North Korea to return to the negotiating table “with an attitude of problem solving,” the official said.
Working-level talks between the two sides in October ended with the North Korean envoy accusing the Americans of coming to the table empty-handed.
On Monday, the North’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui travelled to Russia, a trip that analysts said could be to discuss strategy for the U.S. negotiations.
This month, North Korea said it had turned down a U.S. offer for more talks, saying it was not interested if they were aimed at “appeasing us” ahead of the deadline.
“For Kim Jong Un, having set a year-end deadline himself, it is most important to meet it,” said Cho Han-bum, senior research fellow at Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.
While North Korea wants the sanctions lifted, the United States has insisted Kim must dismantle his nuclear weapons programme first.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Sangmi Cha in Seoul; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Manila and Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo; Editing by Jack Kim, Robert Birsel and Lisa Shumaker)