Asia Pacific

North Korea state media slams U.S. critics of Trump-Kim summit

AFP-JIJI

Pyongyang’s state media on Sunday slammed U.S. critics of the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un a day after the North Korean leader boarded an armored train en route to the summit venue in Vietnam.

The two leaders are due to meet next week in Hanoi after their groundbreaking first summit in Singapore last June, which produced a vague statement on the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Senior officials from Washington and Pyongyang are holding preparatory talks in Hanoi — which are expected to be largely focused on establishing the agenda for the summit.

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. Special Representative on North Korea who is leading the American delegation, acknowledged last month that Pyongyang and Washington did not have a “shared agreement of what denuclearization entails.”

The lack of progress since the first summit has fueled skepticism in Washington over the North’s intentions, with Trump’s own intelligence chief saying Pyongyang was unlikely to completely give up its weapons program.

But in a sharply-worded commentary issued Sunday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency slammed U.S. critics and urged the Trump administration to seize “the rare historic opportunity.”

“The U.S. administration must not forget last year’s lesson when it plunged the bilateral negotiations into a stalemate, being swayed by the opponent forces,” it said.

“If the upcoming DPRK-U.S. negotiations end without results as wished by the opponent forces, the U.S. people will never be cleared of the security threats,” it added.

Pyongyang is seeking relief from punishing U.N. sanctions and rejects demands for what it calls its “unilateral” disarmament.

Washington insists that the measures must stay in place until North Korea gives up its nuclear arsenal.

Experts say tangible progress is needed in Hanoi to avoid the talks being dismissed as a publicity stunt.