With just weeks to go before President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are expected to hold their first-ever summit, Pyongyang on Sunday criticized what it called "misleading" claims that Trump's policy of maximum political pressure and sanctions are what drove the North to the negotiating table. Per the AP, the North's official news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman warning the claims are a "dangerous attempt" to ruin a budding detente on the Korean Peninsula after Kim's summit late last month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. At the summit, Kim agreed to a number of measures aimed at improving North-South ties and indicated he is willing to discuss the denuclearization of the peninsula, though exactly what that would entail and what conditions the North might require have not yet been explained.
Trump and senior US officials have suggested repeatedly that Washington's tough policy toward North Korea, along with pressure on China, have played a decisive role in turning around what had been an extremely tense situation. But the North's statement on Sunday seemed to be aimed at strengthening Kim's position going into his meeting with Trump. Pyongyang claims Kim himself is the driver of the current situation. "The US is deliberately provoking the DPRK at the time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is moving toward peace and reconciliation," the spokesman was quoted as saying. Sunday's comments were among the very few the North has made since Trump agreed in March to the meeting. (Read more North Korea stories.)