The United States and South Korea have resumed some military exercises just days ahead of a high-profile meeting focused on denuclearisation between U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials.
Over the weekend, North Korea issued a statement warning that they will "seriously consider" returning to the development on nuclear weapons if the U.S. continues to refuse to ease economic sanctions against them.
In Washington last week, South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said a decision would be made together with the U.S.by December on major joint military exercises for next year.
President Donald Trump's top diplomat doesn't seem fazed by North Korea's warning about possibly reasserting a policy of bolstering its nuclear arsenal unless the United States lifts economic sanctions.
In recent weeks, North Korea has pressed more sharply for what it sees as reciprocal concessions by the United States and other countries.
"We have previously said we will conduct US-South Korea battalion-level or small-scale drills as planned", ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo told reporters. "The U.S. thinks that its oft-repeated "sanctions and pressure" lead to 'denuclearization.' We can not help laughing at such a foolish idea".
In an interview with Fox News on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that sanctions will remain until Pyongyang carries out denuclearisation commitments made in Singapore.
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The piece, carried in North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA, accused Washington of believing the "foolish idea that the DPRK came out to the negotiating table, yielding to the sanctions" and failing to understand that "the improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible".
The two nations, however, have been at odds over ways to reach that goal, as North Korea has yet to take credible action to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
"I'm not anxious about that", the top US diplomat said Sunday. There have been no nuclear tests.
Mr. Pompeo on Sunday issued a thinly veiled warning to Russian Federation and China that they will suffer the consequences if they continue to purchase Iranian oil after USA economic sanctions on such exports snapback this week.
"We believe we should look for mechanisms that would allow us to continue developing cooperation with our partners, with Iran", Mr. Novak said in an interview with the Financial Times.
The South's dovish president Moon Jae-in has long favoured engagement with the North, which is subject to multiple UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
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