A top North Korean diplomat acknowledged on Thursday that the US had recently tried to initiate contact but called the attempts a “cheap trick” that would never be answered until Washington dropped its hostile policies.
The statement by Choe Son Hui, first vice-minister of foreign affairs for North Korea, is the first formal rejection of tentative approaches by the new US administration under President Joe Biden.
The statement came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting South Korea with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in the first overseas trip by top-level members of Biden’s administration.
The attempts at contact were made by e-mails and telephone messages via various routes, including by a third country, Choe said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.
She called the attempts at contact a “cheap trick to gain time and build up public opinion”.
“What has been heard from the US since the emergence of the new regime is only a lunatic theory of ‘threat from North Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about ‘complete denuclearisation’,” she said.
Choe criticised Washington for continuing military drills in the region, and for maintaining sanctions aimed at pressuring Pyongyang.
No dialogue would be possible until the US rolled back its hostile policy toward North Korea and both parties are able to talk on an equal basis, she said.
Speaking in Seoul on Wednesday, Blinken accused North Korea of committing “systemic and widespread abuses” against its own people and said the US and its allies were committed to the denuclearisation of the rogue nation.
Blinken and Austin are due to continue meetings with South Korean leaders on Thursday, before flying to Alaska for the administration’s first talks with Chinese officials, where North Korea is expected to be discussed.
Talks aimed at reducing tensions with North Korea and persuading it to give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles have been stalled since 2019, after a series of historic summits between then-President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.