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Trump: Talks Are 'Doing Great,' North Korea Disagrees

2019-6-27

U.S. President Donald Trump says his North Korea policy is “doing great.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says talks with North Korea are making “progress.”

Yet the North’s government seems to disagree about the direction of nuclear talks with South Korea and the United States. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry Thursday criticized the two countries, and said it could completely pull out of the talks.

The Korean Central News Agency reported the ministry’s statement. It added there is no guarantee negotiations would restart.

The news agency noted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s demand that the United States change the way it negotiates. He wants a new U.S. approach to the talks by the end of the year.

“Our repeated warning is not…an empty word,” said Kwon Jong Gun. He is director-general of the Department of American Affairs at the North Korean Foreign Ministry.

Widening gap

The comments are evidence of the differences between the appeasing language used by U.S. officials and the aggressive language used by North Korea.

“There is a big disconnect,” said David Kim. He specializes in East Asia security policy at the Stimson Center, a research center based in Washington, D.C.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reads a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, June 22, 2019.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reads a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, June 22, 2019.

Delayed talks

The nuclear talks have been on hold since the February summit of Kim and Trump in Vietnam. That meeting ended without an agreement.

Kim was unhappy with the U.S. government’s slow easing of sanctions against North Korea. Trump was unhappy that Kim would not agree to completely give up his country’s nuclear program. Since then, North Korea has ignored U.S. requests to restart lower-level talks.

The two leaders recently exchanged personal letters. Trump called the letters “beautiful,” while Kim said he was seriously thinking about their “interesting” content.

South Korea’s Moon announced Wednesday the United States and North Korea are involved in “behind the scenes” talks on a third Trump-Kim meeting. He also suggested North and South Korean officials are holding meetings.

But the North Korean Foreign Ministry on Thursday denied there were any talks with the South Korean government. It also rejected the idea of the South helping with contacts between the North and the United States.

The foreign ministry said that South Korea is falsely spreading the idea that the two Koreas are in “closed-door meetings.” It added that South Korea should mind its own business.

Trump to visit DMZ?

Trump plans to travel to South Korea later this week. During his two-day visit, he is set to hold talks with President Moon. South Korean officials say Trump may also visit the demilitarized zone, DMZ, separating the two Koreas.

Some people thought Trump might use a DMZ visit to hold a third meeting with Kim. But before leaving Washington, Trump said he would “not quite” meet with the North Korean leader.

“But I may be speaking to him in a different form,” Trump said.

Both Trump and Kim often praise their friendly relationship. Both have said they will consider a third meeting. U.S. officials have not commented on Moon’s suggestion that planning for the meeting has begun.

Hostile comments to continue?

In recent weeks, North Korea has increased its aggressive language, but appears to be doing so carefully. It does not attack Trump, but, instead, it attacks lower-level U.S. officials.

Last month, North Korea restarted tests of ballistic missiles for the first time in 18 months. However, it has not resumed testing its longer-range missiles because that would be seen as an offensive move.

I’m Susan Shand.

VOA’s William Gallo reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

approach – n. a way of dealing with something

appease – v. to make someone pleased or less angry by giving or saying something desired

sanction – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country

scene – n. a particular area of activity that involves many people

zone – n. an area that is different from other areas in a particular way

quite – adv. to a very noticeable degree or extent

ballistic missile – n. a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes