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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. reaffirm unity against N. Korea's pre-summit threats

All Headlines 15:13 May 16, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with details; MODIFIES headline)

SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and the United States held emergency phone talks Wednesday in a show of solidarity against North Korea's renewed brinkmanship ahead of key summit meetings.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo exchanged views on related issues, including the North's abrupt cancellation of ministerial talks with the South that were supposed to take place the same day, Kang's ministry said.

Kang briefed Pompeo on the South Korean government's position on the North's move and stressed that Seoul maintains the resolve to fully implement the April 27 inter-Korean summit agreement, named the Panmunjom Declaration.

They agreed that the two sides will "continue close cooperation to achieve the complete denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula through the successful hosting of the North Korea-U.S. summit on the basis of the accomplishments in the April 27 South-North summit," the ministry said.

The secretary said the U.S. will continue to make preparations for the summit between President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong-un, scheduled to be held in Singapore on June 12, "paying heed to" the North's decision to put off the inter-Korean dialogue, according to the ministry.

It again demonstrated the unpredictability of the North's behaviors despite its recent peace offensive.

Pyongyang took issue with the ongoing Max Thunder drills by South Korean and the U.S. air forces. It labeled the annual exercise under way in Korea as a rehearsal for invasion and a provocation to run counter to the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration.

The North's abrupt announcement caught South Korean officials off guard, as the communist neighbor was largely silent about the allies' two massive spring combined military exercises -- Foal Eagle and Key Resolve -- held around the third inter-Korean summit.

It urged the U.S. to consider the "fate" of the planned Kim-Trump summit.

In a separate statement, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said his regime will reconsider the plan for the historic summit if the U.S. keep demanding the unilateral nuclear disarmament of the North.

It's viewed as aimed at putting pressure on the allies with their presidents planning to meet in Washington, D.C. next week.

The North is also apparently seeking to increase its bargaining leverage in the Kim-Trump talks.

The Kang-Pompeo phone conversation came four days after they had face-to-face talks in the U.S. capital.

They agreed to have "frequent contact" for close communication between the diplomatic authorities of the two sides, the ministry added.

This combined photo shows South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) and her U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo. (Yonhap)


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