North Korea says the United States “should not misjudge” its intention for dialogue the same day as President Donald Trump’s brought up that Pyongyang had recently reached out about possible talks.
In a statement released Saturday from North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, the country accused the US of “taking preposterous action by continuing to trumpet an insistence that it will not have dialogue unless a right condition is met and that it will keep watching if we have intention to abandon nuclear weapons and missiles and so on.”
The same day, Trump said in a mostly joke-filled speech at the Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington that North Korea “called up a couple of days ago and said, ‘We would like to talk.’ And I said, ‘So would we, but you have to de-nuke. You have to de-nuke.’ So let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens.”
North Korea’s statement added that it is “really more than ridiculous” that the US “insists that it will have dialogue only for making the DPRK abandon nuclear weapons and persist in “maximum pressure” until complete denuclearization is realized.”
The US has said it would be willing to meet with North Korea but has always insisted that Pyongyang eventually abandon its nuclear weapons program as part of any talks.
The North Korean statement added that the DPRK has “clarified our position that a dialogue with the US will be possible.”
“The US attitude shown after we clarified our intention in resuming the DPRK-US dialogue compels us to only think that the US is not interested in resuming the DPRK-US dialogue,” the statement continued.
Pyongyang’s statement also said it “depends entirely on the attitude of the US” whether “a situation that no one desires is developed in the vicious cycle of confrontation” or “whether peace desired by our nation and the rest of the world settles on the Korean peninsula.”
Trump said later in his remarks that “maybe positive things are happening. I hope that’s true. … I say that in all seriousness. I hope that’s true. And we’re soon going to know. We will be meeting, and we will see if anything positive happens. It’s been a long time. It’s a problem that should have been fixed a long time ago, not now.”
White House officials did not respond to a request for clarification. Trump made the remarks while delivering a series of jokes poking fun at himself, his administration and others at the annual dinner.
Last month, it was revealed Vice President Mike Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials, including Kim Jong Un’s sister, during their visits to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. But the North Koreans pulled out of the planned session before it could happen. Pence’s office said it believed the abrupt cancellation was a sign that US attempts to exert pressure on the regime were working.
“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the vice president softening his message, which could have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” said Nick Ayers, Pence’s chief of staff.
Trump had signed off on the decision to meet, with the caveat that the United States wouldn’t back off its stated demand that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear weapons.
In late February, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the US should ease its position on preconditions for talks.
“There is a need for the United States to lower the threshold for talks and North Korea should show its willingness to denuclearize,” Moon said in a statement.
The latest US intelligence assessment about North Korea’s nuclear ballistic missile program judges that Kim’s regime has continued to make progress during the last few months on improving guidance of their missiles, an administration official with knowledge of the information told CNN’s Barbara Starr. The official did point out that the regime is still struggling with the technical challenge of ensuring a warhead can re-enter the earth’s atmosphere.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the timing of North Korea’s statement.
CNN’s Aaron Pellish, Kevin Liptak, Alla Eshchenko, Carolyn Sung, and Jamie Tarabay contributed to this story.