Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
In 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump first met North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, critics claimed the U.S. president shouldn’t be giving a despotic dictator legitimacy on a global stage.
How the tables have turned.
Now, just two years later, the U.S. administration has become so toxic that it’s the North Korean regime that’s refusing to give Trump a publicity boost, by ruling out another summit before the November election.
The rebuke was issued Friday by Kim’s increasingly powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, who ruled out the possibility of a third summit between the two leaders, calling it “unpractical” unless Washington made “decisive changes” in the way it deals with Pyongyang.
“I am of the view that the [North Korea] — U.S. summit talks are not needed this year and beyond, and for our part, it is not beneficial to us unless the U.S. shows decisive changes in its stand," Kim said in a statement carried by North Korea’s KCNA news agency.
There has been some speculation in recent weeks that there could be another meeting between Kim and Trump, and South Korean President Moon Jae In said last week he was willing to broker the summit.
On Tuesday Trump told Gray TV: “I understand they want to meet and we would certainly do that,” adding, “I would do it if I thought it was going to be helpful.”
On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “very hopeful” about resuming denuclearization talks with North Korea, leaving open the possibility of another summit.
But Kim Yo Jong said Pompeo and Trump were simply looking to "buy time and prevent political disasters,” rather than seeking substantive action on easing sanctions on North Korea.
Kim Yo Jong is likely referring to Trump’s poor showing in polls ahead of November’s elections, which is partly the result of his failed handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the economic fallout from the pandemic, and the renewed Black Lives Matter protests that have exploded across the U.S. in recent weeks.
She added that the relationship between Trump and her brother remained “good and solid” but said North Korea “should not adjust its tactics on the U.S. and our nuclear program depending upon the relations with the U.S. president.”
Denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea have been at a standstill since a failed 2019 summit in Hanoi, where Trump walked away from the negotiating table. Washington wants Kim to make concrete moves to get rid of his nuclear weapons before considering lifting sanctions, while Pyongyang wants sanctions relief to happen before denuclearization.
Kim Yo Jong’s comments were presented in a softer tone than her previous statements. She said her comments were not meant to be a threat to the U.S., and she even said she had received special permission to watch the United States’ recent Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations on television.
She also left open the possibility that talks could begin again down the line.
“We would like to make it clear that it does not necessarily mean the denuclearization is not possible. But what we mean is that it is not possible at this point in time,” she said.
Cover: In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a Politburo meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang, North Korea Thursday, July 2, 2020. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.