North Korea on Thursday warned the South to stop “meddling” in nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington, denying President Moon Jae-in’s assertion that dialogue was under way between the two Koreas.
“The reality is the contrary,” senior foreign ministry official Kwon Jong Gun said in a statement carried by the state news agency KCNA.
“The south Korean authorities would better mind their own internal business,” he added, in a stinging rebuke to the North’s neighbor days before US President Donald Trump arrives in Seoul amid a nuclear deadlock.
Negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have been stalled since February when a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed in Hanoi as the pair failed to agree on what the North would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.
The two sides have had minimal contact since — aside from exchanges of letters between their leaders.
Moon said Wednesday that “behind-the-scenes talks” were going on between the US and the North with a view to preparing for a third summit.
“Also under way is dialogue between the South and the North through diverse channels,” he added in a written interview with leading media.
But Kwon, the director-general of the North’s Department of American Affairs, slammed the South on Thursday, denying that “various forms of exchanges and closed-door meetings” were under way between the Koreas.
Southern authorities were trying to “make their presence felt” by posing as a mediator, he said.
Dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington “would not open by itself”, he went on, but if the North had to contact Washington it would use “the liaison channel already under operation”.
“The south Korean authorities have nothing to meddle in,” he added.
Moon, who favors engagement with Pyongyang, brokered last year’s talks between Trump and Kim, and has held three summits with the North Korean leader.
There was even speculation last autumn that Kim could visit Seoul, but Pyongyang has repeatedly criticized the South since Hanoi, even though it recently approved $8 million in food aid for its neighbor.