Amid fears of being left in the lurch on key issues that affect Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has worked to secure promises from U.S. President Donald Trump that he will push North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to give up not only its longer-range ballistic missiles, but also its short- and midrange weapons capable of striking the country. "If we show weakness, if the minute Kim Jong-un threatens we go along, he will continue to take advantage of us".
Analysts said North Korea's threat to scuttle the summit is likely an attempt to gain leverage over Washington, which has demanded the North immediately and irreversibly cease its nuclear weapons program.
Unless the USA backs down on that issue, he said, North Korea likely won't attend the summit scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.
"The president is ready if the meeting takes place", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told USA broadcaster Fox News.
The North Korean statement, as well its cancellation of the talks with the South due to US-South Korean military exercises, mark a dramatic reversal in tone from recent months when both sides embraced efforts to negotiate. "We never expected the United States to build the [North Korean] economy and will never accept such a deal in the future", Kim Kye-gwan said.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday that officials "haven't heard anything. that we wouldn't continue with [military] exercises and planning for summit".
Tensions have risen in recent weeks over the steps needed for the U.S. to ease sanctions against North Korea: The Trump administration wants Kim to give up his weapons before getting anything in return, while the regime favors a more phased approach.
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"I think that's where the president is; we are going to do everything we can to come to a successful meeting, but we are not going to back away from the objective of that meeting which is complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea".
According to USA state Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, Kim Jong-UN understands and is aware of the significance of such a military exercise for the United States.
"If the United States is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and can not but reconsider our proceeding to the D.P.R.K. -U.S. summit", the statement from Kim Kye-kwan read. Such tactics could only prove Kim's olive branch is nothing but a disguised peace gesture to avoid a potential USA pre-emptive strike or buy time to develop a nuclear arsenal.
On Tuesday, a DPRK state media article published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced the cancellation of a planned inter-Korean meeting on the same day over the Max Thunder joint U.S. -ROK military exercises now being staged in South Korea.
North Korea believes that the military exercise threatens warming ties on the divided peninsula.
"We can not but take a step of suspending the North-South high-level talks scheduled on May 16 under the prevailing seriously terrible situation", the KCNA said.
"The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th".