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(CNN) —  

A top official at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has accused South Korean President Moon Jae-in of lying about back channel talks between Pyongyang and Washington in order to manipulate public opinion, complicating efforts by Seoul to revive nuclear negotiations between the two sides.

The comments, published in North Korea’s state-run news outlet KCNA Thursday, come a day after Moon said officials from Pyongyang had been talking “behind the scenes” and “engaged in dialogue in regard to a third summit.”

Moon’s supposed revelation and a recent exchange of letters between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump had led to suggestions that the two sides could revive stalled denuclearization talks during Trump’s trip to Asia beginning Thursday.

Negotiations have, at least publicly, seemed to be stuck in neutral since the February summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi ended abruptly and without an agreement.

The US Special Representative to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said earlier this month that “the door is wide open” for talks to continue, but noted that “US-North Korean diplomacy has been in something of a holding pattern” since Hanoi.

In the statement published Thursday, Kwon Jong Gun, the director general of the Department of American Affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, denied Moon’s assertion that behind-the-scenes dialogue was taking place between and accused South Korea “trying to refurbish their image” by acting publicly as “if they are ‘mediating.’”

Since taking office in 2017, Moon has essentially positioned himself as mediator between the United States, a treaty ally of South Korea, and North Korea. But Kwon said that the recent detente between the two countries was due to the “personal relations between Comrade Chairman of the State Affairs Commission and the US President,” referring to Trump and Kim.

“If we have anything to liaise with the US, it will be simply done through the liaison channel already under operation between the DPRK and the US, and the negotiation, if any, will be held face to face between the DPRK and the US,” Kwon said.

“There will be no such a happening where anything will go through the South Korean authorities.”

01:57 - Source: CNN
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FILE- In this Nov. 7, 2019 file photo, the International Criminal Court, or ICC, is seen in The Hague, Netherlands. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Wednesday, March 3, 2021 that she has launched an investigation into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories. Fatou Bensouda said in a statement the probe will be conducted "independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor."(AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)
PHOTO: Peter Dejong/AP
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