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North Korea threatens to freeze South out of future talks

A senior North Korean official has railed against ongoing US-South Korea joint military drills and threatened to freeze out Seoul by only holding future talks with Washington.

A senior North Korean official has railed against ongoing US-South Korea joint military drills and threatened to freeze out Seoul by only holding future talks with Washington.

Kwon Jong Gun, the director general of the North Korean foreign ministry’s Department of American Affairs, issued a press statement Sunday via KCNA, the nation’s state-run media agency.

The statement denounces South Korea’s plan to hold any military drills and referenced US President Donald Trump’s recent comments on short-range missile tests. This comes one day after Pyongyang’s fifth short-range missile test in a matter of weeks.

Kwon accused the South of attempting to disguise the intentions of the drills by changing their name.

“It is a miscalculation if they think that the very change of the name of the exercise can alter its aggressive nature,” the North Korean official is quoted as saying. “S***, though hard and dry, still stinks even if it is wrapped in a flowered cloth.”

The statement continued: “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 US, not between the North and the South.”

On Saturday Trump tweeted that he looks forward to seeing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “in the not too distant future,” but did not give any further information about progress toward another meeting between the men.

A day earlier Trump said that he received a “very beautiful” letter from Kim, who has repeatedly violated UN resolutions in recent weeks with a series of short-range missile tests.

Speaking to reporters on the White House South Lawn, Trump described the three-page missive as “very positive,” and hinted at some of the contents.

Kim made clear he is not happy with US “tests,” Trump said, later clarifying that he meant joint US-South Korea military exercises.

“He’s not happy with the testing,” Trump said. “It’s a very small testing that we did, but he wasn’t happy with the testing — he put that in the letter.”

Trump went on to downplay Kim’s missile tests, which North Korea has said are meant to protest the joint military drills and pose a threat to US allies in the region.

“I say it again,” Trump told reporters, “There have been no nuclear tests. The missile tests have all been short-ranged — no ballistic missile test. No long-range missiles.”

In Sunday’s statement, Kwon added: “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,” Kwon added.

Kim also oversaw the test-fire of a “new weapon” Saturday, according to KCNA.

“After receiving a report on the development of the new weapon Kim Jong Un gave an instruction to test it immediately,” a statement said.

KCNA reports that the new weapon was developed to suit the terrain conditions of North Korea.

Following the test, Kim “expressed great satisfaction” and was “very pleased that another new weapon intended by the Party came into being,” the statement read.

By Yoonjung Seo and Jackie Castillo, CNN

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