N. Korea shuts door on US talks

Pyongyang: North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the door remains shut for talks with the US on winding down its atomic arsenal, setting the stage for renewed provocations by pledging to respond to what it saw as threats from Washington.

“The DPRK is not interested in any contact or dialogue with the US as long as it pursues its hostile policy and confrontational line,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported yesterday, citing a ministry spokesperson as saying and referring to the country by its formal name.

Statements from the ministry are among North Korea’s highest form of communication with the outside world. The last time one came out in December, Pyongyang test-launched two short-range ballistic missiles about a day later.

The comments from the spokesman come in the wake of a visit by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet his counterpart in South Korea, where the nations announced plans to expand joint drills.

“The military and political situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region has reached an extreme red-line due to the reckless military confrontational manoeuvres and hostile acts of the US and its vassal forces,” KCNA cited the spokesperson it did not identify as saying.

“The more dangerous the US threat to the DPRK gets, the stronger backfire the US will face in direct proportion to it.”

After firing off a record number of ballistic missiles last year, Kim Jong-un’s regime has been relatively quiet to start 2023, testing one ballistic missile on Jan 1 just hours into the new year.

The state has two major events on its calendar this month that might be used to coincide with a show of force - the Feb 8 anniversary of the foundation of the army and its Feb 16 Day of the Shining Star to mark the birthday of deceased leader Kim Jong-il.

The US and South Korea staged a joint air exercise on Wednesday that included a B-1B strategic bomber, and F-22 and F-35B stealth fighters, the Defence Ministry in Seoul said.

“The drills were to show United States’ will and capabilities to provide strong and credible extended deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the ministry said in a statement. — Bloomberg

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talks , US , ballistic missiles


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