File Photo: North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui posing for a photo ahead the welcome ceremony of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un (not pictured) at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on March 1, 2019 AFP

Talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un deadlocked after their second summit in Hanoi in early 2019 broke up over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return

North Korea accused the new US administration of adopting “lunatic theory” on Thursday, ruling out any engagement with Washington unless it changed course, as President Joe Biden’s top envoys held talks in Seoul.

The comments from Pyongyang’s first vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui came with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin in South Korea on the second leg of an Asian tour to bolster a united front against the nuclear-armed North and an increasingly assertive China.

After Seoul, Blinken heads to Anchorage, Alaska for the new administration’s first talks with China’s top diplomats, with Beijing and Washington at loggerheads over issues ranging from trade to rights to territorial disputes.

The Biden administration has generally backed the tougher approach to Beijing initiated by former president Donald Trump and is looking to shore up alliances to rein in China’s regional rise while co-operating on priorities such as climate change.

Beijing warned on Thursday it would make no concessions to the US on key issues including human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

“China has no room for compromise on issues concerning its sovereignty, security and core interests,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

The trip to East Asia provoked Pyongyang’s first acknowledgement of the changing of the guard in Washington, having ignored Biden’s administration so far.

In a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, Choe said there could be no contact or dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang “unless the US rolls back its hostile policy” towards her country.

The “new regime” in the US, she added, had only put forward a “lunatic theory of ‘threat from north Korea’ and groundless rhetoric about ‘complete denuclearization'”.

Talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un deadlocked after their second summit in Hanoi in early 2019 broke up over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

The North remains subject to sanctions over its banned weapons programs, but has also voluntarily closed its borders for more than a year to try to protect itself against the coronavirus pandemic that first emerged in neighbouring China.

The new US administration is reviewing Washington’s policy towards the North, and after the US envoys met their South Korean counterparts Blinken reiterated the US goal of “the denuclearisation of North Korea.”

He added that in Anchorage he would press Beijing, Pyongyang’s key diplomatic ally and main trading partner, to intervene, saying China had a “critical role” to play.



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