NK rejects talks with United States 'under preconditions'

NK rejects talks with United States 'under preconditions'

NK rejects talks with United States 'under preconditions'

A spokesperson for North Korea's foreign ministry said Saturday that the drills between the U.S. and the South would harm reconciliation efforts on the peninsula, and that the North would be forced to "counter" the U.S., Reuters reported. Scott Simon talks with Bruce Bechtol, a former Korea analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The marked rapprochement saw the two Koreas march into the Games opening ceremony together behind a unification flag, and Moon share a historic handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong. Moscow also believes it was Washington's saber-rattling and regular military drills in the region that provoked Pyongyang into "taking some rash action" after months of restraint, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following North Korea's latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in November.

But the White House earlier this week reaffirmed that denuclearisation is a key part of any dialogue with Pyongyang. Washington has made it clear that steps by North Korea toward denuclearization should be the basis of any dialogue between the two countries.

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The Japanese government remains wary of South Korea's plans to dispatch a special envoy.

The two are also expected to affirm the resumption of USA joint military drills with South Korea which the two countries plan to suspend until the Winter Paralympics end on March 18, even though North Korea opposes the drills and denounces them as preparations for invasion.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphatically said at a press conference Friday: "Close cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea is extremely important".

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North Korea said Saturday there will be no talks with the United States if they come with any "preconditions", reasserting that it has no intent to abandon its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for dialogue with Washington.

In a meeting with North Korean General Kim Yong Chol on Sunday, Moon also urged the North to open dialogue with the U.S. as soon as possible - to which Kim responded by saying the North was "very willing" to hold talks.

The latest U.S. intelligence assessment about North Korea's nuclear ballistic missile program judges that Kim Jong Un's regime has continued to make progress on improving the guidance of their missiles that would allow them to hit specific targets, according to an administration official with knowledge of the assessment.

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