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US and South Korea to 'work closely' after North Korea threatens to pull out of summit

North Korea’s sudden shift in attitude followed a weeks-long charm offensive.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a meeting of the seventh central military commission at an undisclosed location in North Korea on Thursday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a meeting of the seventh central military commission at an undisclosed location in North Korea on Thursday.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in today discussed North Korea’s recent threats to cancel its unprecedented summit with Washington DC, Seoul’s presidential office has confirmed.

After weeks of warm words and diplomatic backslapping, Pyongyang abruptly threatened to pull out of the planned summit next month because of US demands for “unilateral nuclear abandonment”, according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.

North Korea also cancelled a high-level meeting with the South at the last minute, protesting joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.

In a phone conversation today, Trump and Moon “exchanged views on various actions taken by North Korea recently”, Moon’s office said in a statement.

The two leaders agreed to “work closely” for the success of the landmark summit in Singapore on 12 June, which would be the first meeting between a sitting US President and a North Korean leader.

They are due to meet in Washington on Tuesday.

Charm offensive 

North Korea’s sudden shift in attitude followed a weeks-long charm offensive that has seen leader Kim Jong-un hold a historic summit with Moon and meet Chinese President Xi Jinping twice.

At a dramatic summit last month in the Demilitarised Zone dividing their two countries, Kim and Moon pledged to pursue nuclear disarmament and a peace treaty.

Pyongyang also raised hopes ahead of the US summit by announcing it will destroy its nuclear testing site.

However, the promise is open to interpretation on both sides and the North has spent decades developing its atomic arsenal, culminating last year in its sixth nuclear test — by far its biggest to date — and the launch of missiles capable of reaching the US.

© AFP 2018 

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