North Korea might exit planned talks with Donald Trump if it is pushed to abandons nuclear its nuclear programme, an official has warned.
The country has no interest in “one-sided demands” for North Korea to renounce its nuclear weapons, a statement carried by state media said.
If America “corners us and unilaterally demands we give up nuclear weapons we will no longer have an interest in talks and will have to reconsider whether we will accept the upcoming DPRK-US summit”, state media quoted vice-foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan saying.
With the expected summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Mr Trump looming, Pyongyang has pivoted from what had been a more conciliatory stance by laying out more concrete demands and pushing back on the US.
A day earlier, North Korea announced it would cancel a planned meeting with South Korea in response to its neighbour holding joint military exercised with American troops.
While Pyongyang has long condemned such exercises as rehearsals for an invasion, the regime had appeared to soften that stance earlier this year by conveying that it would not rewrite the exit of US troops from the Korean Peninsula as a precondition for a nuclear deal.
North Koreans breakout to Seoul
The latest statement from North Korea similarly signalled a return to more hardline tactics after Mr Kim had committed to seeking “denuclearisation” and moved to shutter a nuclear testing site.
Even as it has tentatively embraced the diplomatic opening posed by talks with Mr Kim, the Trump administration has hewn to a “maximum pressure” campaign of stringent sanctions, and Mr Trump has said he would walk away from a deal that falls short of disarmament.
Before inviting Mr Trump to an unprecedented meeting with Mr Kim, Pyongyang spent the first part of the Trump presidency rattling the world with a series of ballistic missile tests.
Both sides traded insults and threats of annihilation, fuelling fears of a nuclear conflict.