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|February 20, 2019|
North Korea cancels talks with South, threatens to pull out of U.S. summit
PYONGYANG--North Korea has suddenly canceled high-level talks with South Korea that were planned for Wednesday and threatened to pull out of the upcoming summit with President Trump amid frustration in Pyongyang over ongoing joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, according to report in Seoul.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the North’s main state-controlled media outlet, the KCNA, announced that the annual “Max Thunder” joint drills underway between the South Korean and U.S. air forces are a rehearsal for an invasion of the North and a provocation.
Yonhap issued a separate news bulletin that the North had also threatened to “cancel the U.S. summit,” an apparent reference to the June 12 meeting slated to occur between Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, because of the ongoing drills.
The White House had no immediate comment on the report. President Trump didn’t respond to reporters’ shouted questions about the fate of the North Korea summit as he left the White House late Tuesday afternoon.
State Department officials responded cautiously, with department spokeswoman Heather Nauert telling reporters there had been no official message from North Korea or from South Korea to U.S. officials about the ongoing military drills. She also asserted that preparations for the June 12 Trump-Kim summit have not been effected.
“We will continue to go ahead and plan the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Ms. Nauert said.
But one administration official told The Washington Times on condition of anonymity that Trump’s national security council was monitoring the situation.
At the Pentagon, spokesman Col. Rob Manning downplayed the notion that the joint military drills, which occur annually, were a provocation. “The defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed,” he said.
The high-level North-South talks that were slated for Wednesday had been set to take place on the southern side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the Korean peninsula to follow up on a breakthrough summit that Mr. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held last month.
News of the North’s sudden cancellation of Wednesday’s talks broke after midnight Korea time. (Source: The Washington Times)
Story Date: May 16, 2018