North Korea Still Silent on Trump-Kim Summit

From left, the images of President Trump, South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appear on a public TV screen at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
From left, the images of President Trump, South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appear on a public TV screen at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Two days after news emerged of a proposed summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, Kim's government has yet to make a formal response. But North Korean propaganda outlets are keeping up a drumbeat against U.S. sanctions and military threats.

The North's silence contrasted with a Twitter burst from Trump Saturday in which he expressed his enthusiasm for face-to-face talks with Kim and touted international backing for a meeting that would be the first between a U.S. president and the head of the Stalinist state.

"North Korea has not conducted a Missile Test since November 28, 2017 and has promised not to do so through our meetings," Trump tweeted. "I believe they will honor that commitment!"

Trump's overtures have thus far been ignored by North Korean outlets in favor of routine pronouncements of the North's strength and resolve.

The daily publication of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea said that "the army and the people of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] will never be browbeaten" by economic and military pressure, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

In a commentary, the North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the sanctions were an attempt by the U.S. to "isolate and stifle the DPRK through sanctions and blockade and weaken it in a bid to bring it under control with ease," South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

"We won't let Americans determine good and evil according to their own ruler and trample upon justice and truth," Rodong Sinmun said.

The statements from the two newspapers were relatively benign by the strident standards of North Korean propaganda, which routinely denounces "capitalist roaders" and "running-dog imperialists." They came as the U.S. and South Korea awaited a response to Trump's stunning agreement Thursday to meet with Kim Jong-un.

The White House left it to a visiting South Korean delegation to make the announcement from a driveway outside the mansion Thursday night that Trump was on board with the peace efforts of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

South Korean officials said that Moon would meet with Kim sometime next month ahead of the proposed summit with Trump toward the end of May.

The offer for the summit with Trump came from Kim, who pledged to halt nuclear and missile tests leading up to the talks that would focus on the "denuclearization" of the peninsula, South Korean officials said.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Friday said the summit was not a done deal and appeared to put tough preconditions on its taking place.

"The president will not have the meeting without seeing concrete steps and concrete action" taken on the vague promises North Korea has made to South Korean envoys on "denuclearization," Sanders said at a press briefing.

Sanders did not define the "concrete steps" or suggest how they might be verified, but said North Korean leaders have "got to follow through on the promises they've made" before Trump will participate.

At about the same time Sanders made the statements, Trump was on the phone to Chinese President Xi Jinping touting the positive effects for the region of the proposed summit.

The White House readout of the call said that Trump told Xi of his hope that "North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might choose a brighter path for North Korea's future" at their meeting.

In a Tweet Saturday, Trump said that "President XI told me he appreciates that the U.S. is working to solve the problem diplomatically rather than going with the ominous alternative. China continues to be helpful!"

In another Tweet, Trump said he had also spoken to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "who is very enthusiastic about talks with North Korea."

Also on Saturday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said she will go to Washington next week to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to work out details for the summit.

"Willingness for dialogue has been confirmed on both sides," Kang said in a statement. "Now it falls on working-level officials to set the agenda for the summit.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

 

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