SEOUL – North Korea on Tuesday lashed out at the United States for mentioning Pyongyang in its annual report on state sponsors of terrorism, saying the report is an example of Washington’s “hostile policy” that is limiting chances for dialogue.
The U.S. State Department on Friday published its 2018 Country Reports on Terrorism. Though the report scaled back its criticism of North Korea from the previous year, it mentioned that the U.S. re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terror in 2017.
North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected the report as a “grave politically motivated provocation,” according to a statement in the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
“This proves once again that the U.S. preoccupied with inveterate repugnancy toward (North Korea) is invariably seeking its hostile policy towards the latter,” the statement said.
North Korea last month walked away from working-level nuclear talks, blaming the United States for not offering enough concessions. It has since threatened to resume nuclear or long-range missile tests.
The North Korean statement on Tuesday said it is an “insult” that the U.S. would issue the terrorism report, especially while U.S.-North Korea dialogue “is at a stalemate.”
“The channel of the dialogue between the DPRK and the U.S. is more and more narrowing due to such attitude and stand of the U.S.,” the North Korean foreign ministry said, using an abbreviation for the country’s official name.
North Korea was originally designated as a state sponsor of terror in 1988, following its involvement in the bombing of a Korean Airlines passenger flight a year earlier. The U.S. removed North Korea from the list in 2008 during a period of dialogue.
In 2017, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism during a period of heightened tensions.
“The Secretary determined that the DPRK government repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism, as the DPRK was implicated in assassinations on foreign soil,” the latest State Department report said.
The North Korean entry contained less than half as many words as the previous year’s report. It also removed descriptions of North Korea’s “dangerous and malicious behavior.”
But North Korea still took issue with its inclusion on the state sponsors of terrorism list, which imposes unilateral sanctions.
“This is an insult to and perfidy against the DPRK, dialogue partner,” North Korea’s foreign ministry insisted.
North Korea is looking for sanctions relief and other concessions from the United States. It has given Washington until the end of the year to change its approach, after which it has warned of “dangerous” consequences.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump have met three times since last June. Though they have agreed to “work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the two sides have not been able to agree on the first steps toward doing so.