North Korea's foreign minister said Pyongyang will not disarm without first receiving concessions from Washington. It's a different tone than the one set by Trump and Kim, which the US leader described as loving.
North Korea's foreign minister said Saturday there was "no way" his country would unilaterally disarm without the lifting of international sanctions and building of trust with the United States.
Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ri Yong Ho said North Korea had taken "significant goodwill measures" in the past year but had not seen "any corresponding response" from the United States.
"Without any trust in the US there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first," Ri said.
Trump: We fell in love
The foreign minister's statements, however, differ from the tone set by both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.
The two leaders issued a vaguely worded joint statement following their summit in Singapore in June pledging to work towards "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." Since then, talks between Pyongyang and Washington have largely stalled over details.
Despite the apparent lack of progress, this week Trump praised Kim during a speech at the General Assembly and on Saturday he said after tough talks at their summit in June the pair "fell in love."
"I was being tough and so was he," Trump said at for Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia. "And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love. No really. He wrote me beautiful letters."
Kim, after a third meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Kim this month, said he would dismantle North Korea's main nuclear complex and accept international inspectors at a key missile site in exchange for unspecified corresponding measures from the United States. He also provided Moon with a letter that the South Korean leader hand-delivered to Trump.
Sanctions 'deepening our mistrust'
North Korea wants a formal peace treaty to end the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended only in an armistice. But the United States has said the North must first give up its nuclear and missile program. Pyongyang also seeks a staged reduction of international sanctions in exchange for concessions on its weapons programs, something Washington is against.
"The US insists on the 'denuclearization-first' and increases the level of pressure by sanctions to achieve their purpose in a coercive manner, and even objecting to the 'declaration of the end of war,'" Ri said.
"The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe dream of the people who are ignorant about us. But the problem is that the continued sanctions are deepening our mistrust," he added.
De-escalation of tensions
China and Russia have called for a reduction in sanctions on North Korea in exchange for steps it has taken so far.
Ri's comments at the UN General Assembly were toned down from last year, when North Korea and the United States exchanged sharp words that had the world worried the two sides could go to war.
On Wednesday, Trump said he had a good relationship with Kim but did not establish a time frame on making diplomatic progress.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would return to Pyongyang in October to prepare for a follow-up Trump-Kim summit.
cw/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)