North Korea on Sunday criticised the United States for “misleading the public” about Pyongyang’s intention to denuclearise was the result of sanctions imposed on the country. North Korea had announced the decision at its historic summit with the South Korea in Panmunjom village on April 27.

“Recently, the US is misleading the public opinion, arguing as if the DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s] clarification of its intention for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula made through the Panmunjom Declaration is the result of so-called sanctions and pressure,” state-run agency KCNA quoted a spokesperson for North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying.

The comments come ahead of an expected meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea’s nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri test site brought the region to the brink and soured ties with the United States and Japan in 2017, especially after September, when the country announced its sixth and largest nuclear test, firing a missile that flew over Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Following this, the United Nations Security Council imposed a series of sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The United States also imposed a series of sanctions on North Korea.

On Sunday, the foreign ministry spokesperson said, “It [United States] is making open remarks that it would not ease the sanctions until the DPRK gives up its nuclear weapons completely, and also moving to aggravate the situation on the Korean peninsula by deploying strategic assets and increasing its attempt of taking up ‘human rights’ issues.”

The US is “deliberately provoking” North Korea, the spokesperson said. “This act cannot be construed otherwise than a dangerous attempt to ruin the hardly-won atmosphere of dialogue,” he added. “It would not be conducive to addressing the issue if the US miscalculates the peace-loving intentions of the DPRK as a sign of ‘weakness’ and continues to pursue its military threats against us.”

These comments came amid several reports that United States President Donald Trump has suggested that the country’s tough policy towards North Korea played a role in Pyongyang’s denuclearisation plan.