North Korea says recent moves signal its strength, not weakness

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North Korea has broken its silence on the diplomatic thaw with Washington and Seoul, saying it is driving the "peace offensive" and rejecting suggestions that sanctions forced it to the negotiating table.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the defence detachment on Jangjae Islet and the Hero Defence Detachment on Mu Islet located in the southernmost part of the waters off the southwest front, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 5, 2017.

"Such rubbish as "result of sanctions and pressure" ... spread by the hostile forces is just as meaningless as a dog barking at the moon", the commentary said.

Tensions with North Korea have cooled dramatically since the beginning of the year and around the Winter Olympics held in the South.

The White House said the meeting wouldn't happen "until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea", but later clarified it "fully expects" the summit to take place.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly received a congratulatory letter from North Korean president Kim Jong-un for securing a fourth term in office.

North Korean state media noted Tuesday a "sign of change" in the relationship between Washington and Pyongyang, but criticized claims that worldwide pressure is driving the North's conciliatory behavior.

The commentary seems to come in response to pundits in the US, South Korea and Japan dissecting the reasons for cooling tensions, with some saying Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign was bearing fruit.

Kim learned of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's intention for an inter-Korean summit from the envoys, exchanged views and made a "satisfactory agreement", the North's KCNA said at that time. Delegates from North and South Korea and the United States met this week in Finland to discuss issues ahead of the proposed summit.

Delegations from the North and South are set to meet again next week to prepare for a meeting between Kim and Moon.

The South and the USA announced on Tuesday a plan to resume annual joint military exercises on April 1, with its main drill shortened by a month-in an apparent conciliatory gesture over an event that infuriates the North.

The editorial was toughly worded but stopped well short of some of the vitriol of previous North Korea propaganda.