|People watch a TV news program reporting about North Korea's projectiles with a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. AP|
North Korea said Sunday it won't even hold contact with South Korea, let alone dialogue, unless Seoul gives a "plausible excuse" over its ongoing military exercise with the United States, calling it an "aggressive war exercise against" the North.
Kwon Jong-gun, North Korean foreign ministry's director-general of the department of American affairs, made the remarks in a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), blasting South Korea over the allies' joint military drill that kicked off last week.
The statement came a day after Pyongyang fired two projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea, the fifth such launch since July 25, and as the allies were set to begin their exercise in full-scale later Sunday.
"Given that the military exercise clearly puts us as an enemy in its concept, they should think that an inter-Korean contact itself will be difficult to be made unless they put an end to such a military exercise or before they make a plausible excuse or an explanation in a sincere manner for conducting the military exercise," he said, according to the KCNA's English-language report.
Lashing out at the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae for holding emergency meetings over the North's recent series of missiles launch, he said the latest testings were "regular measures for conventional weapons modernization."
"With regard to our test for developing the conventional weapons, even the U.S. president made a remark which in effect recognizes the self-defensive rights of a sovereign state, saying that it is a small missile test which a lot of countries do," he said.
Kwon was apparently referring to U.S. President Donald Trump's earlier remark that described the North's missiles as "smaller ones" that many countries test.
In a separate report, the KCNA also said the same day that Saturday's launch was a test firing of a "new weapon" under Kim's guidance and that he expressed "great satisfaction" with the launch.
"Though we are to enter into a dialogue in future as the currents flow in favor of dialogue, they had better keep in mind that this dialogue would be held strictly between the DPRK and the U.S., not between the North and the South," Kwon said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Following the North's firing Saturday, Trump said Kim has expressed hope to resume the negotiations once the allies' military drill is over in a letter.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said Wednesday that he is hopeful Washington and Pyongyang will resume the talks "in the coming weeks."
Inter-Korean relations, meanwhile, have not progressed much in recent months, apparently affected by a lack of progress in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington since their no-deal summit in February. (Yonhap)