North Korea Calls Off South Korea Talks, Threatens to Cancel US Summit

North Korea has cancelled high-level talks scheduled for Wednesday with South Korea, following joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the exercises, called “Max Thunder” air combat drills involving US stealth fighters and B-52 bombers were a “provocation” angering the North Korean government.

“This exercise, targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an international military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korea’s news agency Yonhap quoted KCNA as saying.

North Korea has also issued a warning to the US, threatening to pull out of a summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump scheduled for 12 June in Singapore.

“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities,” it said.

“The US should make efforts to create an atmosphere for mutual respect and confidence before dialogue, not resorting to a foolish farce that may reverse that good trend created with much effort.”

The US State Department said it was not aware of any changes in North Korea’s position and it would continue to prepare for the summit.

“Kim Jong-Un had said previously that he understands the need and the utility of the United States and the Republic of Korea continuing in its joint exercises,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

“We will continue to go ahead and plan the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un.”

The meeting between both North and South Korea was a set to be a follow-up to a summit held on 27 April.

Representatives had planned to discuss further details of agreements made at the meeting, including promises to formally end the Korean War and pursue denuclearisation.

However, the military drills between the US and South Korea upset the North, despite US claims the exercises were routine and defensive in nature.

South Korea said North Korea understood the drills would continue despite growing ties.

It was considered to be a major North Korean concession, despite Pyongyang not publicly withdrawing its demand to end joint US-South Korea military drills.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday the US would lift sanctions on North Korea if it agreed to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

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