Pyongyang cancels Seoul talks as Trump summit in doubt

North Korea accuses Seoul and Washington of planning invasion despite peace dialogue
SEOUL: North Korea announced early Wednesday that it was “indefinitely” postponing inter-Korean talks planned for later in the day while also threatening to cancel a scheduled summit between leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA news agency blamed ongoing military drills being carried out by South Korean and American air forces.
“This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive development on the Korean Peninsula,” the KCNA article stated.
The ‘Panmunjom Declaration’ refers to an April 27 peace agreement reached during the first inter-Korean summit in over a decade — a Kim-Trump meeting set for June 12 had been expected to flesh out the details of the North’s denuclearization.
While the U.S. is not known to have received any notification of a change in that schedule, the KCNA report warned Washington to “undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities”.
Pyongyang had only arranged high-level talks with the South a day before Wednesday’s cancellation, while the allied military exercises in question started last Friday.
The Max Thunder drills — described by the allies as defensive in nature — are set to last two weeks, including the participation of around 100 military aircraft such as B-52 bombers and fighter jets.
North Korea has long condemned such exercises as war preparations, although allied drills earlier this year did not disrupt diplomatic improvements.
Washington was cautious in its initial response, as White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stated that the U.S. “will look at what North Korea has said independently and continue to coordinate closely with our allies”.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also confirmed that the U.S. “will continue to plan” next month’s summit with North Korea in Singapore.–AA

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