Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon made his remarks in a press statement carried yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency (KNCA), released to coincide with the historic bilateral summit in Singapore on June 11 and 12, at which US President Donald Trump met North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un for the first time. The pair have met on two occasions since then, most recently in Hanoi in Vietnam last year.
However, Pyongyang has yet to agree to give up its nuclear weapons, with the peace process apparently stalled.
Ri said: “What stands out is that the hope for improved DPRK-US relations – which was high in the air under the global spotlight two years ago – has now been shifted into despair characterised by spiralling deterioration and that even a slim ray of optimism for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula has faded away into a dark nightmare.
“The desire of the peoples of two countries to put a period to the world’s most antagonistic relations between the DPRK and the US and to open a new cooperative era of peace and prosperity runs deep as ever.
“Yet the situation on the Korean peninsula is daily taking a turn for the worse.”
Ri was speaking days after Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee vice-chairman Kim Yong Chol and first vice department director Kim Yo-jong – Kim Jong Un’s sister – severed all lines of communication with South Korea in retaliation against Seoul’s failure to act against defectors spreading leaflets attacking the North Korean government.
In yesterday’s statement, Ri claimed his country had destroyed its nuclear test site, repatriated the remains of missing US troops who fought in the Korean War, freed US prisoners and suspended longer-range and nuclear tests.
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“Nothing is more hypocritical than an empty promise.
“The US professes to be an advocate for improved relations with the DPRK.
“But in fact, it is hell-bent on only exacerbating the situation.”
China today urged the United States to take concrete measures to address North Korea’s concerns.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing one reason for the deterioration in bilateral relations since a summit in Singapore in 2018 was because North Korea’s legitimate concerns had not been resolved.
Separately, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday lambasted United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres for voicing “regret” at the recent communication breakdown between Pyongyang and Seoul.
The unnamed official voiced “astonishment over such reckless remarks – devoid of the common sense of judgment”.
They added: “It is the shabby and double-dealing behaviour of the UN Secretary-General that he does not say a word when the sovereignty of the DPRK, a full-fledged member of the UN, is severely infringed.
“Yet he never misses the opportunity to raise his subservient expression of ‘regret’ whenever the US and its vassal forces are picking on our self-defensive measures.”