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North Korea says talks with U.S. on ‘the verge of extinction’

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at North Korea's Ministry of Armed Forces on February 8 (Credit: KCNA)

North Korea has condemned a planned military exercise between South Korea and the United States as “extremely provocative” and a “dangerous act,” warning that its patience is limited and dialogue with the U.S. is on the “verge of extinction.”

Kwon Jong Gun, a roving ambassador at North Korea’s foreign ministry, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the U.S. decision to hold aerial exercises with South Korea in December “amounts to a declaration of confrontation with the DPRK.”

North Korea views U.S. military exercises with South Korea as both a threat and a violation of the agreements which were reached at the Singapore summit in June 2018. Major war games between the two countries have not resumed, but a number of scaled-back exercises have taken place.

“The U.S. reckless military frenzy is an extremely provocative and dangerous act of throwing a wet blanket over the spark of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue [which is] on the verge of extinction,” Kwon said, adding that it would stoke an atmosphere of confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.

“We have already emphasized more than once that the planned joint military exercise can block DPRK-U.S. relations from advancing and compel us to reconsider the crucial measures we have already taken,” Kwon said. “Our patience is nearing the limitations and we will never remain an onlooker to the reckless military moves of the U.S.”

Tensions have been rising since February when a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump ended in failure. The talks broke down when the U.S. refused to lift sanctions in return for North Korea’s pause in nuclear and long-range missile testing, as well as the dismantling of several sites.

North Korea has carried out 12 rounds of missile launches since early May, including the test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile on October 2. It was the most provocative missile test in nearly two years and came just days before long-stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. were set to resume in Stockholm. The talks ended in failure and North Korea has said it is no longer willing to talk with the U.S. until it ends its “hostile policy.”

North Korea has given the U.S. until the end of the year to change its approach to the world’s most reclusive country. In October, Kim rode a white horse to a sacred mountain in what state-run media called “a great event of weighty importance,” prompting speculation that a major event or decision is forthcoming.

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