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North Korea promises election trouble if U.S. ‘pokes’ into tensions with South

Click to play video 'North Korea’s youth hold rally against defector leaflets' North Korea’s youth hold rally against defector leaflets
North Korean youths and students held an outdoor rally in Pyongyang on Saturday to protest leaflets launched by defectors in South Korea that condemned the Kim Jong-Un's regime – Jun 7, 2020

North Korea said on Thursday the United States has no standing to comment on inter-Korean affairs, and it is in Washington’s interest to stay quiet if it wants the upcoming presidential election to go smoothly, state media reported.

The statement comes after the U.S. State Department said it was disappointed at North Korea for suspending communication hotlines with South Korea on Tuesday.

READ MORE: North Korea says communication will be cut off with South over defector leaflets

“If the U.S. pokes its nose into others’ affairs with careless remarks, far from minding its internal affairs, at a time when its political situation is in the worst-ever confusion, it may encounter an unpleasant thing hard to deal with,” Kwon Jong Gun, director-general for U.S. affairs at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, said in comments carried by state news agency KCNA.

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The United States should “hold its tongue” and address its own domestic problems unless it wants to “experience a hair-raiser,” he said.

“It would be good not only for the U.S. interests but also for the easy holding of upcoming presidential election.”

Click to play video 'North Korea, South Korea exchange gunfire across border after Kim Jong Un reappears in public' North Korea, South Korea exchange gunfire across border after Kim Jong Un reappears in public
North Korea, South Korea exchange gunfire across border after Kim Jong Un reappears in public – May 3, 2020

It is unclear what North Korea would do to disrupt the election or cause problems for U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, said James Kim, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

“If anything, there’s a chance that provocation may even rally the country around the incumbent,” he said.

READ MORE: North Korea, South Korea exchange gunfire across border, raising tensions

After a series of historic summits in 2018 and 2019 between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, little progress has been made in dismantling the North’s nuclear weapons program, and Pyongyang has expressed increasing frustration with Washington’s refusal to ease sanctions.

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North Korea said on Tuesday it would sever hotlines with South Korea after days of lashing out at Seoul for not stopping defectors from sending leaflets and other material into the North.

On Wednesday, South Korea said it would take legal action against two organizations that conduct such operations.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lincoln Feast.)