North Korea dismisses chance of 'face to face' U.S. nuclear talks ahead of election

Stella Kim and Adela Suliman and Reuters

Brushing away speculation that President Donald Trump could meet with Kim Jong Un ahead of November's presidential election, a senior North Korean diplomat said Saturday that the country does not "feel any need" to enter into negotiations with the U.S.

"We do not feel any need to sit face-to-face with the U.S.," said Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.

"The U.S. is mistaken if it thinks things like negotiations would still work on us," Choe added, before claiming that the U.S. considers dialogue with North Korea as "nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis."

The comments come ahead of a visit to South Korea next week by U.S. envoy Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, to discuss the stalled talks with the secretive communist state.

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with a leader of North Korea in June 2018, and later took an unprecedented step onto North Korean soil in 2019 — with the aim of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The two men made history and headlines when they met in Singapore, after months of trading inflammatory barbs, with Trump promising "fire and fury" towards the "little rocket man." Kim, meanwhile, said he would "tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

But North Korea never stopped building nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them, U.S. intelligence officials and private analysts told NBC News recently.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday that the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea should meet again before the U.S. presidential election in November, which could help resume nuclear negotiations.

But this suggestion was dismissed as a "shallow trick" by Choe.

Tensions escalated abruptly between Pyongyang and Seoul earlier this month, when the North dramatically demolished an inter-Korean liaison office in a town on the border between the two.

Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. (Dong-A Ilbo / Getty Images file)
Image: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea. (Dong-A Ilbo / Getty Images file)

North Korea also lashed out at North Korean defectors living in the South, for sending over propaganda leaflets and balloons into the demilitarized zone.

Just as suddenly, it appeared to back down announcing it would suspend plans for unspecified military action against the South, first proposed by Kim's sister and trusted aide, Kim Yo Jong — who has gained prominence in recent months.

Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, told reporters in New York on Thursday that the president might seek another summit with Kim as an "October Surprise" ahead of the election, according to Reuters.

But this was brushed off by North Korea.

"Now is a very sensitive time when even the slightest misjudgment and misstep would incur fatal and irrevocable consequences," said Choe, adding that the United States' persistent "hostile policy" towards North Korea made dialogue and meetings unrealistic.