North Korea has warned detractors to exercise “prudence” ahead of planned summits with the South Korean and American presidents, noting there is a “dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation” between the two Koreas as well as a “sign of change” in the relationship between Pyongyang and Washington.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency did not directly mention the summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump scheduled for May, but this was still the first time it had even obliquely acknowledged that plans for the meeting are underway.
“We do like to remind that it is time for all to approach everything with prudence, with self-control and patience,” KCNA said in a commentary published Wednesday.
In a surprising turn of events linked to the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in South Korea in February, North Korea invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to a summit with Kim, planned for late next month in the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.
Then, through a South Korean envoy, Kim invited Trump to talks. South Korea has said denuclearization will be on the agenda, but there has been no word from the Kim regime that it is willing to discuss giving up its prized nuclear weapons program.
No location has been decided for the May talks.
There is considerable skepticism about both sets of talks, with some analysts and conservative politicians noting North Korea has reneged on every deal it has signed.
The lack of North Korean confirmation that Kim was willing to talk about denuclearization has only exacerbated those doubts.
However, supporters of diplomacy say even the prospect of talks is a welcome change from the saber-rattling of 2017, when North Korea tested several missiles and a nuclear bomb, and the Trump administration warned repeatedly of military options for making North Korea stop.
“Dishonest forces” in the United States, Japan and South Korea are now “peddling groundless stories” about North Korea, the KCNA commentary said.
“Thanks to the proactive measure and peace-loving proposal made by the DPRK,” it said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, “a dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation has been created in relations between the north and the south of Korea and there has been a sign of change also in the DPRK-U. S. relations.”
The commentary lashed out at “incumbent and former officials and experts of the U.S.” who have said that North Korea performed a U-turn without Washington having to make any concessions, and those who have said its willingness to talk is because American-led sanctions are crippling the North Korean economy.
“Such rubbish as ‘result of sanctions and pressure’ . . . spread by the hostile forces is just as meaningless as a dog barking at the moon,” the commentary said.
It said North Korea’s economy is growing and Pyongyang’s willingness to talk is a sign of its strength, not its desperation.
“It is really an expression of small-mindedness for the riff-raffs to spoil the atmosphere and say this or that even before the parties concerned are given a chance to study the inner thoughts of the other side and are seated at a negotiating table,” KCNA said.