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The period of relative calm is over.
North Korea launched a new warning against the United States this weekend ahead of the summit that Kim and Trump are expected to hold next month.
A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry considered that Washington is “provoking” Pyongyang by suggesting that sanctions against the country will not be withdrawn until it abandons its nuclear weapons.
The declarations take place after weeks of relative calm in this front and while both countries finalize the preparations for the historical summit between their leaders.
The North Korean spokesman, quoted by the official agency of that country KCNA, considered that the United States “is manipulating the opinion of the public” when saying that the will to denuclearize expressed by Pyongyang “is the result of pressure and sanctions.”
Trump said he will maintain the sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang and suggested that those measures were the cause of North Korea’s change of attitude.
The North Korean spokesman stressed that Washington “should not misinterpret as weakness ” the pacifist will expressed by Pyongyang, and warns that “it would not be conducive” to continue with its “pressure and military threats.”
“The United States is deliberately provoking (North Korea), at a time when the situation on the Korean peninsula is heading towards peace and reconciliation , thanks to the historic North-South Summit and the Declaration of Panmunjom “, says the statement collected by the KCNA.
The representative of the Foreign Ministry made reference to the agreement reached between North and South Korea at the meeting held by their leaders on April 27 in the border town of Panmunjon.
It was the first time that a North Korean leader had stepped on the South since the war that confronted both territories, and marked a milestone in relations.
Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in pledged to reach an agreement to formally end the Korean War, which ended in 1953 with an armistice, and work for “complete denuclearization.”
A difficult meeting
This latest statement from the North Korean side is a reminder that the meeting between Kim and Trump will not be easy, considers the editor for Asia of the BBC Michael Bristow.
For now, the date or place where the meeting will occur has not been announced, but Trump said that it is already decided.
“We already have a date and a place,” the president said this week.
Trump also referred to the Americans imprisoned in North Korea and hinted that there will be news about their situation.
“We are holding important talks with North Korea, many things have already happened in relation to the hostages, I think you’re going to see very good things,” Trump told reporters.
Currently, there are three Americans in the hands of the North Korean authorities: Kim Dong-chul, 64; Kim Sang-duk, 58, and Kim Hak-song, who is around 60, all born in South Korea and later nationalized.
The businessman Kim Dong-chul is the American who has spent more time in prison in the hermetic country: he was arrested in 2015 during a trip to North Korea and later sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage.
The other two are professors at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the only private and foreign-funded university in the country, and the North Korean media have attributed “hostile acts” against the regime.
For the time being, and although South Korean media reported that news about them would occur this weekend, their situation remains unknown.