North Korea threatens to scrap Singapore summit over joint US-South Korea military drills

Right when North Korea decided to play nice with their neighbor and even committed themselves to hold a meeting with the United States in Singapore in about month’s time, things are looking a bit shaky today.

North Korea has threatened to cancel the historic Trump-Kim summit, expressing anger over joint US-South Korea military exercises. North Korea’s state media Korean Central News Agency stated that the Max Thunder drills between South Korean and US air forces are a rehearsal for an invasion of the North — an “intentional military provocation”, they said.

North Korea has since canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea. Representatives between the two Koreas were supposed to meet at a border village to discuss plans to reduce military tensions and improve ties.

“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 political development on the Korean Peninsula,” the KCNA report said.

The Panmunjom Declaration (or known by its full name, Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity, and Unification of the Korean Peninsula) was adopted last month during the historic inter-Korean Summit, where leaders of both countries agreed to formally end the Korean War.

“The United States will also have 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,” said KCNA.

Historically, North Korea majorly disapproves the annual military drills between the United States and South Korea.

Nuclear pressure

The sudden threat to cancel the summit is a surprising twist to recent developments. North Korea had recently released three US prisoners and even began dismantling a nuclear test site ahead of the convention with President Trump.

North Korea’s first vice foreign minister Kim Kyi Gwan expanded on the threat — he noted that Pyongyang is not interested in the meeting if Washington will pressure it to give up its nukes.

“…we are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-U.S. summit meeting,” he said.

North Korea threatens to scrap Singapore summit over joint US-South Korea military drills

© Jung Yeon-je

In response, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert noted that they had no information about the warning, and will continue with plans to hold the meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un, AXIOS reported.

The ball is now in America’s court. The first-ever meeting between a United States president and a North Korean leader might very well be scrapped at the last minute if things aren’t set right.

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