US President Donald Trump said he believed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would keep his pledge to “denuclearise,” while suggesting that neighbouring China might be working to undermine talks.
“I have confidence that Kim Jong-un will honour the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake,” Trump said in a tweet, adding that Beijing “may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!”
The claim reflects growing concern in Washington that China might be emboldening Kim to take a tougher line in nuclear negotiations amid President Xi Jinping’s escalating trade standoff with Trump.
Earlier on July 9, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had rejected comments by US Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, accusing Beijing of “pulling North Korea back.” “It does not make any sense,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing in Beijing.
“China’s attitude on this issue is consistent and clear-cut. We will continue to play a positive role in and make constructive contributions to realising
the denuclearisation of the peninsula and achieving the long-lasting peace and stability of the region.” New doubts about the fate of the negotiations between the US and North Korea emerged after North Korea issued a statement describing US demands as “gangster-like” and “cancerous.” The rebuke — coming after a visit to Pyongyang by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — underscored that North Korea wouldn’t accept US disarmament demands without moves to normalise relations and guarantee its security.
The 1,200-word statement from an unidentified North
Korean foreign ministry spokesman said that such steps had been agreed by Trump during his summit with Kim in Singapore last month and were “essential for defusing tension and preventing a war.” The official closed by saying, “We still cherish our good faith in President Trump.”
The North Koreans “are crafting their public position to leave the door open to future dealings between the two leaders,” Robert Carlin, a visiting scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, wrote on the North Korean news and analysis website 38 North. In his analysis of the statement, the former US State Department adviser on North Korea concluded that Pyongyang had tempered its criticism with language meant to “leave the way open for further engagement.”
An American official, who asked not to be identified speaking about internal negotiations, said the US believed some of the harsher language used by North Korea was a
negotiating tactic and that
Pompeo wasn’t discouraged by its tenor. “I was there for the event, I know actually what precisely took place,” Pompeo said. “When we spoke to them about the scope of denuclearisation, they did not push back.”
During a stop in Afghanistan, Pompeo told US soldiers who asked about the North Korea negotiations that the talks would take time.