Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s influential younger sister, on Friday ruled out the possibility of holding another US-North Korea summit this year, saying it is “useless” for Pyongyang and would only benefit Washington, according to state media.
“This is my personal opinion but summit between the US and North Korea will not take place this year,” said Kim to the state-run Korea Central News Agency.
She said another summit is “unnecessary and useless” to the North unless there is a decisive change in the US stance toward the North in their stalled denuclearization talks. Kim stressed it is the US, not North Korea, who needs the summit.
But Kim, first vice-department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, didn’t completely shut the doors closed, saying “we never know” what could unexpectedly happen, depending on the decision of the two countries’ leaders.
Her remark arrives as US President Donald Trump’s point man on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, was on the last day of his trip to Seoul and Tokyo, in an effort to revive nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington, which have been stalled since the collapse of the Hanoi summit last February. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he would hold another summit with the North’s Kim Jong-un “if I thought it was going to be helpful.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday he was “very hopeful” about resuming dialogue with North Korea, leaving possibility of another summit between the two leaders open.
In the past week, however, the North has repeatedly denied any interest in resuming the talks, accusing the US of considering “dialogue as nothing more than a tool for grappling with its political crisis,” apparently referring to the upcoming US presidential election in November.
But in a positive sign, Kim said that the North is still engaged in denuclearization.
“We are not saying we will never denuclearize, but we are making it clear that we cannot do it now,” said Kim, emphasizing any denuclearization move by Pyongyang should correspond with US’ “major steps.” And that US’ corresponding action is not necessarily a sanctions relief, she underlined.
Kim said that the previous framework of sanctions relief in return for denuclearization between Pyongyang and Washington should be changed to “resumption of North Korea-US talks for withdrawal of (US) hostilities.”
She also noted the North’s previous offer of dismantling its entire main Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for sanctions relief from the US -- which was made during last year’s summit in Hanoi -- is no longer on the table.
But she added Pyongyang has no intention of threatening the US, nor taking further provocations before the US presidential election. “As long as they don’t touch us and hurt us, everything will flow as is,” she said.
Kim said it was thanks to good relations between Kim Jong-un and Trump that North didn’t deliver its warned “Christmas gift” last year. Pyongyang had threatened to carry out an unspecified provocative act as a “Christmas gift” for the US to make new concessions in talks over the North’s nuclear program by the year-end.
“We have no intention of threatening the US, and Chairman (Kim) has made his position clear to President Trump regarding this,” she said, adding her brother had instructed her to extend greetings wishing Trump for success.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org