North Korea has warned the United States not to misread its overtures of peace as a sign of weakness, as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prepare to hold their first-ever summit.
"The U.S. is deliberately provoking the DPRK at the time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is moving toward peace and reconciliation,'' a Foreign Ministry spokesman told North Korean state media Sunday. DPRK � the Democratic People's Republic of Korea � is the North's formal name.
The official was referring to U.S. claims that Trump's policy of maximum political pressure and sanctions are what drove the North to the negotiating table.
The criticism comes weeks before the U.S.-North Korea summit planned for later this month or early June, and after last month's historic meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
At that meeting, Kim promised to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and to move North Korea's clocks ahead by 30 minutes to correspond with the South Korean time zone, a pledge he fulfilled Saturday.
Beware of moving 'back to square one'
But the North Korean spokesman said Sunday that movement of U.S. military assets in the region and talk of human rights violations also have hurt the peace process.
"This act cannot be construed otherwise than a dangerous attempt to ruin the hard-won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one," he said.
Trump has indicated that the date and place of the summit have been chosen, and said he believes the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Koreas might be a good venue. Singapore was also believed to be a potential site.
Before Trump meets with Kim, Washington is hoping to gain the release of three Korean Americans accused of anti-state activities. Trump hinted that the release of Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim was in the offing.
There was no sign of an imminent release, though the men had reportedly been moved to the North Korean capital.
The White House, meanwhile, has announced a separate meeting between Trump and Moon at the White House on May 22 to "continue their close coordination on developments regarding the Korean Peninsula."
Source: Voice of America