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North Korea says it won't trade nuclear weapons for sanctions lift

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un talk before a meeting in the Demilitarized Zone(DMZ) on June 30, 2019, in Panmunjom, Korea.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES/TNS

By KANGA KONG | Bloomberg News | Published: January 11, 2020

SEOUL, South Korea (Tribune News Service) — North Korea won't rely on the personal relationship between its leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump as it doesn't intend to trade its nuclear weapons for a lift of sanctions, its state-run media said, citing a Foreign Ministry adviser.

"There will never be such negotiations as that in Vietnam, in which we proposed exchanging a core nuclear facility of the country for the lift of some United Nations sanctions," Kim Kye Gwan was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency. "There is no need for us to be present in such talks, in which there is only unilateral pressure, and we have no desire to barter something for other thing at the talks like traders."

The dialogue will reopen only under the condition of Washington's "absolute agreement" on North Korea's demands, which the U.S. is neither ready for nor able to do, he said. "We know well about the way we should go and will go on our way."

The statement came a day after South Korea's presidential national security adviser Chung Eui-yong told reporters that Trump asked Seoul to send greetings to Kim, whose birthday was on Wednesday. This prompted hopes that the renewed tensions between the two adversaries could thaw again and they would meet for next round of talks.

Playing down Seoul's efforts to mediate Washington-Pyongyang relations, the North Korean diplomat also said that Trump separately sent Kim a birthday letter through a "special" liaison channel between the leaders.

While leader Kim's relationship with Trump is "not bad," it will be "stupid" to expect such ties will help restart talks between the two nations, the Foreign Ministry's Kim said.

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