Pyongyang Denies Existence of Behind-the-Scenes Talks with U.S.

Shortly after South Korean President Moon-Jae-in said the U.S. and North Korea had been holding behind-the-scenes denuclearization talks, reviving hopes of a third summit between the countries’ leaders, a top official from the North’s Foreign Ministry said Moon was lying.

North Korea issued an official denial of Moon’s comments that Washington and Pyongyang had “engaged in dialogue in regard to a third summit” in its state-run news outlet KCNA.

The South Korean’s president’s remarks coupled with the recent letters exchanged between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un led some to believe denuclearization negotiations could finally resume after they experienced a deadlock in February following the unsuccessful summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi.

U.S. Special Representative to North Korea Stephen Biegun noted earlier this month that “the door is wide open” for talks to continue, acknowledging nonetheless that the “U.S.-North Korean diplomacy has been in something of a holding pattern,” CNN reports.

Kwon Jong Gun, the director general of the Department of American Affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in the Thursday statement that Moon was “trying to refurbish” South Korea’s image by pretending publicly to be mediating between the two long-term adversaries.

“If we have anything to liaise with the U.S., it will be simply done through the liaison channel already under operation between the DPRK and the U.S., and the negotiation, if any, will be held face to face between the DPRK and the U.S.,” Kwon said. “There will be no such happening where anything will go through the South Korean authorities.”

President Trump is set to arrive in Osaka later on Thursday to meet with international leaders. On Sunday, he is scheduled to visit Seoul where he will meet with Moon. Before setting off, Trump said he may speak with Kim on his trip to Asia “in a different forum,” but refused to explain what that meant.

“I’ll be meeting with a lot of other people, not by him, but I may be speaking to him in a different forum. I’ll be going, as you know, to South Korea after we’re finished with the G20 and we’ll be there for about a day. We have a lot of meetings planned with a lot of different countries,” the President said before departing.

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