North Korean leader Kim Jong Un turned down an invitation by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to participate in a regional summit next week in the southern city of Busan, the country's state media said Thursday.
A statement carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said there's no reason for Kim to visit the South under a “murky” atmosphere and criticized Moon's government for failing to uphold agreements reached between their leaders in three summits last year.
KCNA said Moon's office sent a letter on Nov. 5 requesting Kim attend a two-day summit Moon hosts for Southeast Asian leaders on Monday and Tuesday.
The agency said the South also asked the North to send a special envoy to the meetings if Kim can't come.
North Korea has suspended virtually all cooperation with the South amid a standstill in larger nuclear negotiations with the United States, while demanding that Seoul defy US-led international sanctions and restart joint economic projects that would help jolt the North's broken economy.
In their third summit last September in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, Kim and Moon vowed to restart South Korean tours to Diamond Mountain and normalize operations at an inter-Korean factory park in the North's border town of Kaesong when possible, voicing optimism that sanctions could end to allow such projects.
But without a breakthrough in the nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang, the economic projects remain shelved.
“At the current point where none of the promises made at Panmunjom, Pyongyang and Mount Paektu has been realized, our stance is that it's better not to do a summit between the leaders of the North and South that would be nothing more than a formality,” the KCNA said.
Panmunjom is an inter-Korean border village that hosted the first two summits between the leaders last year. Kim and Moon during their Pyongyang meeting visited Mount Paektu, a volcano North Koreans consider sacred, in a gesture of engagement.
North Korea has threatened to tear down South Korean-made hotels and other facilities at the Diamond Mountain resort that Kim called “shabby” while vowing North Korea would redevelop the site on its own.