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North Korea accuses US of ‘evil ambition’

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Pyongyang says Washington's missile tests a sign of bad faith amid dialogue

WASHINGTON North Korea on Wednesday accused the United States of showing bad faith in negotiations by conducting nuclear and missile tests and military drills, even while advocating dialogue.

A North Korean Foreign Ministry statement repeated past complaints about ongoing US sanctions, including the seizure of one of the country's biggest cargo ships, and warned that "use of strength is not at all a monopoly of the United States".

The statement noted that the US had conducted a subcritical nuclear test on Feb 13, just days before a second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"The US has thus showcased its ulterior intention that it seeks a strength-based solution of the issues, though outwardly it advocates dialogue," the statement said.

It aimed fresh attacks at Mr John Bolton, Mr Trump's National Security Adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing them and other high-ranking US officials of having "insulted the dignity of our supreme leadership" and spat out abusive language" by calling North Korea a "rogue regime".

It also accused the US officials of a "hostile scheme to stifle us by force" by warning that Washington would "change its path" if North Korea did not give up its nuclear weapons.

The statement condemned recent US-South Korean military exercises and US missile defence drills and test launches of intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

It also complained of increasing reconnaissance flights over North Korea and accused Washington of "manoeuvres" to deploy sophisticated landing craft in Japan and nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missiles around the Korean Peninsula.

"All the above clearly shows that the June 12... Joint Statement is not within the consideration of the United States and there is no change at all in the American evil ambition to conquer (North Korea) by force," it said, referring to a commitment by Mr Trump and Mr Kim at a first summit last year to establish a new era of relations.

"The US should better bear in mind that its hostile acts will only bring about the result of adding tension to the already unstable Korean Peninsula and inviting adverse current," the statement said.

A spokesman for the US State Department said Washington remained committed to the goals agreed by Mr Trump and Mr Kim "of transformed US-North Korean relations, building lasting peace, and complete denuclearisation".

"The US remains ready to engage in constructive discussions," she said.

The North Korean statement comes days after Mr Trump, who says he is keen to pursue talks with Mr Kim even while maintaining a hardline sanctions policy, sought to play down North Korea's missile tests.

Mr Trump said they had involved only short-range weapons and had stuck to a freeze in nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

He appeared to contradict Mr Bolton, who had said there was "no doubt" the North's launches had violated UN Security Council resolutions.