Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said on Sunday that if South Korea goes ahead with a planned joint military exercise with the US it will damage the resolve of the two Koreas to rebuild relations, state media KCNA has reported.
Washington and Seoul are due to hold a joint military drill later this month, Reuters reports.
She also said a recent decision to restore hotlines between the two Koreas should not be seen as anything more than reconnecting “physical” ties, and that it would be “thoughtless” to assume that summits are around the corner.
Her comments come at a time when North and South Korea are in talks to hold a summit as part of efforts to restore relations.
“Our government and military will keep a close eye on whether the South Koreans go ahead with the aggressive war exercises, or make a big decision. Hope or despair? That’s not up to us,” Yo Jong said in a statement carried by KCNA.
The two Koreas, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a ceasefire, last week reconnected hotlines the North severed in June last year.
KCNA, said all inter-Korean communication channels resumed operations in line with an agreement between Moon and Jong Un. It touted the reopening of the hotlines as “a big stride in recovering the mutual trust and promoting reconciliation”.
North Korea cut the hotlines in June 2020 as cross-border ties soured after a failed second summit in February 2019 between Jong Un and former US president Donald Trump, which Seoul had offered to mediate.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for a revival of the talks, pinning high hopes on US President Joe Biden to restart negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.
The announcement came as the two Koreas marked the 68th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.
According to KCNA, Jong Un paid tribute to fallen soldiers and sent gifts to surviving veterans.