Pyongyang's U-turn threatens Trump summit

South Korea says military drills will go on

Cancellation of the summit, the first between United States and North Korean leaders, would deal a major blow to what would be the biggest diplomatic achievement of Trump's presidency.

Analysts said North Korea's threat to scuttle the summit is likely an attempt to gain leverage over Washington, which has demanded the North immediately and irreversibly cease its nuclear weapons program.

March 9: Trump accepts Kim's invitation to meet, which the White House initially says will take place by the end of May.

"If the USA and the South Korean government thinks that the improvement of North-South relationship and the US talk made possible by our leading and generous efforts and actions as a pardon to open play-with-fire fuss like this war drill anytime, there is no greater misjudgment than that", North Korean state media agency KCNA said in a dispatch. Trump said the USA government hasn't been informed about any change in plans for the June 12 meeting.

"We have never had any expectation of United States support in carrying out our economic construction and will not at all make such a deal in future", he said. Further, just last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea, which was nearly unprecedented for a sitting USA official.

North Korea's threat to cancel the summit puts Trump in a very awkward position, after he's spent weeks portraying it as a key part of his historic legacy.

South Korean soldiers get a look at North Korea on Wednesday at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom
South Korean soldiers get a look at North Korea on Wednesday at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom

Later North Korea's first vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan, went further, saying in another statement that Pyongyang has no interest in a summit with Washington "driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand" for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

However, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said during a Tuesday briefing that they had not received any "formal or even informal notification of anything", and are continuing to plan the summit.

Pyongyang's state-run KCNA blamed ongoing military drills being carried out by South Korean and American air forces.

In Wednesday's angrily worded statement, KCNA denounced the Max Thunder exercises as a "rude and wicked provocation", and Seoul said it had received a message cancelling planned high-level talks "indefinitely".

The potential path to denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula now hangs in the balance after North Korea threatened this week to pull out of its upcoming summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. He said the USA would not soften its demands. -South Korea joint exercise, along with those between the three allies, as key pillars of deterrence in the region.

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