North calls on U.S. to end its ‘hostile policy

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North calls on U.S. to end its ‘hostile policy

North Korea’s No. 2 in command on Saturday called on Washington to abandon its “hostile policy” toward the regime, saying denuclearization can only be discussed once the security of the North’s regime and its right to development were assured, according to state media on Tuesday.

In a speech delivered at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Baku, Azerbaijan last week, Choe Ryong-hae, vice-chairman of the North’s State Affairs Commission and president of the country’s parliamentary presidium, expounded upon what he labeled the United States’ persistent and “anachronistic policy” that is hostile to Pyongyang, which he claimed had left the Korean Peninsula at a “critical crossroads” between durable peace and a “touch-and-go” crisis.

Echoing the regime’s repeated demands for a new method of calculation on Washington’s part with regards to their bilateral negotiations, Choe said denuclearization talks were dependent on whether the United States took “practical measures” that departed from threats to its security and development, suggesting again that sanctions relief and security assurances were requisite to any sort of nuclear deal.

The remark mirrors those made by North Korean officials following the collapse of the long-awaited working-level denuclearization talks with the United States in Stockholm earlier this month.

Choe also took the opportunity in his address to issue a scathing criticism of South Korea, blaming Seoul for bringing inter-Korean relations to a standstill as a result of its leaders’ “inability […] to free themselves from the policy of dependence on foreign forces and subservient proclivity to big powers.” Improvement of inter-Korean ties can only be possible if the South renounced such dependence, he said - a warning that may be followed by action in light of Pyongyang’s recent demand that Seoul clear out all its investments and infrastructure in the North’s Mount Kumgang tourist area.

On Tuesday afternoon, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the North rejected its offer to hold working-level talks to discuss the tourism issue.

Without mentioning the United States by name, Choe went on to decry what he called “rampant” violations to key international principles committed through United Nations resolutions, which only served to “justify the high-handedness and arbitrariness of a specific country.”

Citing NAM’s role as a bloc opposed to “all forms of aggression, interference, subordination and inequality,” Choe suggested member states band together to reject all attempts of aggression and interference from offenders of international justice - an appeal to NAM members, which include other socialist countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Vietnam.

“In the face of ever-increasing sanctions and pressure of the hostile forces to deprive our republic of its sovereignty and right to development,” Choe said, the North Korean people “are making dynamic efforts to build a powerful socialist country by dint of self-reliance and self-development” in line with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s goal of economic construction.

Choe’s attendance at NAM’s 18th summit between heads of state and government in Azerbaijan was part of a days-long trip that also included a meeting with the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev.

North Korea first joined NAM, a forum of 120 mostly developing countries not formally associated with any global power bloc, in 1976 and has used the organization as a platform to openly disparage U.S. foreign policy.

In NAM’s 2006 summit Pyongyang was conducting denuclearization negotiations with the United States through the six-party talks, then-president of the presidium Kim Yong-nam claimed Washington was trying to “deprive other countries of even their legitimate right to peaceful nuclear activities.”

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