North Korea cancels high-level talks with South Korea, putting summit in doubt

The North Korean government has canceled high-level talks with South Korea that were scheduled on Wednesday.

There are other indications that put the summit next month between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in doubt.  The North is apparently balking at U.S. demands that Kim agree to give up his nuclear weapons. 

CNN:

A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said North Korea would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear program.

Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted in the article as saying the US said "it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon (nuclear weapons)."

"We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction and will not... make such a deal in future," he added.

If the Trump administration was "genuinely committed" to improving ties with Pyongyang, "they will receive a deserving response," Kim Kye Gwan said.  "But if they try to push us into a corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks and will have to reconsider ... the upcoming summit."

Pyongyang's rhetoric is similar to Trump's own: he said in April that even once parties are at the negotiating table, if talks aren't going the right way, "I will respectfully leave the meeting."

Is the summit really in danger?  Both Trump and Kim have put their credibility on the line by agreeing to this summit, and I think it will take a lot more than some diplomatic skirmishing to cancel it.

Kim doesn't want to be backed into a corner, while Trump wants minimal assurances that the nuclear question will be of primary importance.  Kim is willing to talk disarmament but only with promises of U.S. aid and trade.  The U.S. is insisting on unilateral denuclearization.

Unless Kim was planning on canceling the summit all along, it appears that the North Koreans are engaging in a diplomatic gambit to give themselves some negotiating room over nukes.  The summit could still be canceled, but as long as both sides are willing to approach the meeting without too much posturing, the two leaders will meet as planned in Singapore next month.

The North Korean government has canceled high-level talks with South Korea that were scheduled on Wednesday.

There are other indications that put the summit next month between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in doubt.  The North is apparently balking at U.S. demands that Kim agree to give up his nuclear weapons. 

CNN:

A statement published by the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said North Korea would never accept economic assistance from the US in exchange for unilaterally abandoning its nuclear program.

Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted in the article as saying the US said "it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon (nuclear weapons)."

"We have never had any expectation of US support in carrying out our economic construction and will not... make such a deal in future," he added.

If the Trump administration was "genuinely committed" to improving ties with Pyongyang, "they will receive a deserving response," Kim Kye Gwan said.  "But if they try to push us into a corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks and will have to reconsider ... the upcoming summit."

Pyongyang's rhetoric is similar to Trump's own: he said in April that even once parties are at the negotiating table, if talks aren't going the right way, "I will respectfully leave the meeting."

Is the summit really in danger?  Both Trump and Kim have put their credibility on the line by agreeing to this summit, and I think it will take a lot more than some diplomatic skirmishing to cancel it.

Kim doesn't want to be backed into a corner, while Trump wants minimal assurances that the nuclear question will be of primary importance.  Kim is willing to talk disarmament but only with promises of U.S. aid and trade.  The U.S. is insisting on unilateral denuclearization.

Unless Kim was planning on canceling the summit all along, it appears that the North Koreans are engaging in a diplomatic gambit to give themselves some negotiating room over nukes.  The summit could still be canceled, but as long as both sides are willing to approach the meeting without too much posturing, the two leaders will meet as planned in Singapore next month.