By Heekyong Yang
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Sunday there has been no progress in the North Korea-United States relations, and hostilities that could lead to an exchange of fire have continued, according to North Korea’s state news agency KCNA.
In a statement under the name of Chairman of the Korea-Asia Pacific Peace Committee Kim Yong Chol, KCNA said that it would be mistaken for the United States to ignore a year-end deadline on U.S. President Donald Trump’s and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “close personal relations.”
Kim Jong Un has set an end-of-the-year deadline for denuclearization talks with Washington.
Kim Yong Chol was the nuclear talks envoy to the United States for the discussions between the two countries before the second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February ended in failure.
Kim Yong Chol said the United States has been pressuring North Korea in a “more crafty and vicious way” instead of heeding North Korea’s call for Washington to adopt a new approach, adding that the United States has been persistently pushing other countries to impose U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
The statement quoted Kim Yong Chol as saying he hopes that U.S.-North Korean relations do not underscore that “there are permanent foes but no permanent friends.”
The statement comes just days after North Korea asked South Korea to discuss removal of its facilities from the North’s resort of Mount Kumgang, a key symbol of cooperation that Pyongyang recently criticized as “shabby” and “capitalist.”
North Korea on Friday sent notices to the South’s Unification Ministry, which handles issues between the two sides, and Hyundai Group, whose affiliate Hyundai Asan Corp built the resort facilities, asking for their demolition and seeking discussion through the exchange of documents, the ministry said.
State media also reported on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the Myohyangsan Medical Appliances Factory, which is under reconstruction. Kim paid a visit to the factory last August as part of move to encourage economic development.
Kim, who had strongly condemned the lack of visible modernization last time, said during this visit that “the factory was given a complete facelift and its look changed fundamentally.”
He criticized, however, “the insufficient quality of the construction that comes short of the needs of design and engineering,” KCNA said, adding that he promised to send a highly skilled construction unit soon to fix the problems and complete the factory flawlessly by the end of the year.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Daniel Wallis and; Sandra Maler)