Denuclearising North Korea

US acting in bad faith: Kim Jong Un

Korean peninsula peace and security hinge on future US attitude, he says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a departure ceremony at the Vladivostok railway station before he left Russia yesterday, following his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a departure ceremony at the Vladivostok railway station before he left Russia yesterday, following his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

VLADIVOSTOK • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accused the United States of acting in "bad faith" in talks on his country's nuclear arsenal, his state media has said, as he left Russia following his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Kim's armoured train departed from the far eastern port city of Vladivostok a day after talks that saw Mr Putin back North Korea's need for "security guarantees" in its stand-off with the US.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) yesterday said Mr Kim told Mr Putin that the US adopted a "unilateral attitude in bad faith" at the summit between US President Donald Trump and Mr Kim in Hanoi two months ago.

"Peace and security on the Korean peninsula will entirely depend on the US future attitude, and the DPRK will gird itself for every possible situation," Mr Kim was quoted as saying. DPRK refers to Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.

The Trump-Kim summit broke down in late February without a deal after cash-strapped Pyongyang demanded immediate relief from sanctions, but the two sides disagreed over what the North was prepared to give up in return.

Russia has called for the sanctions to be eased, while the US has accused it of trying to help Pyongyang evade some of the measures - accusations which Moscow denies.

Just a week ago, Pyongyang demanded the removal of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from the stalled nuclear talks, accusing him of derailing the process.

On Thursday, Mr Putin emerged from his meeting with Mr Kim saying that like Washington, Moscow supports efforts to reduce tensions and prevent nuclear conflicts.

But he also insisted that the North needed "guarantees of its security, the preservation of its sovereignty".

"We need to... return to a state where international law, not the law of the strongest, determines the situation in the world," he said.

Kyungnam University professor of North Korean studies Kim Keun-sik said that is "what the North has been saying all along", adding that Mr Putin's support for Pyongyang's stance was the "biggest prize" that Mr Kim won in Vladivostok.

Mr Trump yesterday said he "appreciates that Russia and China are helping us" in negotiating with Pyongyang over its nuclear arsenal.

Mr Putin flew on to another summit in Beijing after meeting Mr Kim, while the Pyongyang leader stayed in Vladivostok and was due to take part in a series of cultural events. But the mercurial North Korean kept officials in suspense about his post-summit plans.

A wreath-laying ceremony was delayed by two hours yesterday morning, with an honour guard kept waiting and the red carpet rolled up. Mr Kim eventually showed up and the wreath was laid.

Russian media had reported that Mr Kim would be visiting the city's aquarium and seeing a ballet yesterday, but the visit was cut short. He instead turned up at the train station and, after a final departure ceremony with a military band, boarded his train and left.

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The summit saw both leaders saying they were looking to strengthen ties that date back to the Soviet Union's support for the founder of North Korea, Mr Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung.

The younger Mr Kim said he hoped to usher in a "new heyday" in ties between Pyongyang and Moscow. He invited Mr Putin to visit North Korea "at a convenient time" and the invitation was "readily accepted", KCNA said.

"Mr Kim is seeking the upper hand for future talks with the US and meeting foreign leaders like Mr Putin can help him do that," said Professor Lee Woo-young from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. But Washington was unlikely to be swayed, he added.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2019, with the headline US acting in bad faith: Kim Jong Un. Subscribe