Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam Reuters

North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Saturday that denuclearization is off the negotiating table with the United States.

The ambassador, Kim Song, said in a statement quoted by Reuters that the “sustained and substantial dialogue” sought by the United States was a “time-saving trick” to suit its domestic political agenda, a reference to Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.

“We do not need to have lengthy talks with the US now and denuclearization is already gone out of the negotiating table,” he said.

The ambassador’s comments appeared to go further than North Korea’s earlier warning that discussions related to its nuclear weapons program might have to be taken off the table given Washington’s refusal to offer concessions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has set an end-year deadline to kick-start the talks with Washington, but negotiations remain at a stalemate after a working-level meeting last month broke down.

That meeting, which tool place on the outskirts of Stockholm, was the first formal working-level discussion between the US and North Korea since US President Donald Trump and Kim met in June and agreed to restart negotiations that stalled after a failed summit in Vietnam in February.

Since that June meeting, North Korea has conducted several tests of ballistic missiles, most recently in late November.

Trump has said he's "not happy" about North Korea's persistent testing of short-range missiles but denied the launches violate any agreement.

On Saturday, Trump sought to play down a recent surge in tensions with North Korea, stressing what he said was his good relationship with Kim and saying he thought Kim wanted a deal, not to interfere in next year’s US presidential election.

“We’ll see about North Korea. I’d be surprised if North Korea acted hostilely,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for Florida.

“He knows I have an election coming up. I don’t think he wants to interfere with that, but we’ll have to see ... I think he’d like to see something happen. The relationship is very good, but you know, there is certain hostility, there’s no question about it,” he added.

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