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United States 'deliberately provoking' us over peace talks, North Korea says

United States 'deliberately provoking' us over peace talks, North Korea says

A spokesman for the North's foreign ministry warned Washington that claiming Pyongyang was forced into talks by U.S. pressure risked returning the peninsula "back to square one".

The historic first meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will "most likely" be held in Singapore in mid-June, according to South Korea's largest newspaper.

Pyongyang rejected Trump's claims that crippling sanctions forced the regime to the negotiating table and said the United States should not "deliberately provoke" them by deploying strategic assets in South Korea and bringing up human rights issues, KCNA, the North's official news agency said Sunday, Reuters reported.

The warnings from North Korea are a reminder that it will seek to project an image of strength for domestic and overseas audiences, even as the country says it's moving forward with rapprochement with the USA and South Korea. It cited unnamed officials as saying that wasn't meant to be a bargaining chip with Kim, but did reflect that a prospective peace treaty between the Koreas could diminish the need for USA forces in South Korea.

Al Jazeera's Kathy Novak, reporting from the South's capital, Seoul, said that "many people here are feeling a renewed hope about this country's relationship with North Korea".

But for Trump to contemplate withdrawing troops now would be a quixotic move as he enters into negotiations with Kim whose demands and intentions are uncertain. Some 28,500 USA forces are based there, a military presence that has been preserved since the Korean War ended in 1953 without a peace treaty.

What is InSight? Take a tour inside Nasa’s new Mars lander
They also stopped by the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, where the Mars 2020 rover is now being put together. One InSight instrument will dig 5 meters (16 feet) into the subsurface to measure heat from the interior.

Trump, a former reality TV star who likes to build suspense about upcoming presidential news, did not give a date or location for the North Korea summit, and White House officials did not immediately provide further clarity.

An editorial in Sunday's edition of the ruling Workers' Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, also criticized Japan for trying to seek dialogue with the North by following the example of the US and South Korea.

The press release accredited to the DPRK mission to the United Nations is somewhat of a rarity: while it has attributed statements to itself in the last two years, the majority of the mission's press releases are typically reposted dispatches previously published by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

In Panmunjom, Kim had said he found it a "painful wrench" to see clocks at the summit venue showing different times for the two neighbours, KCNA reported earlier. "So it's possible Kim and Trump come to an agreement", he said.

Trump on Friday also heavily hinted that the release of three Americans by North Korea was in the offing, but again was sparing on the details.

Sunday's comments were among the very few the North has made since Mr Trump agreed in March to the meeting.


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