The US on Wednesday said it was not surprised by North Korea's new conditions for talks but reiterated that President Donald Trump is ready to meet Kim Jong Un for their scheduled summit on June 12. "We'll have to see", Trump said in the Oval Office.
"We're going to continue with the campaign of maximum pressure if that's the case", Sanders said.
In the statement issued by Kim Kye Gwan on Wednesday, the vice foreign minister denounced several senior officials at the White House and the U.S. State Department, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, for raising, among other things, the potential for a "Libyan model" for denuclearization.
"We support the improvement of North-South [Korean] relations, the promotion of dialogue between North Korea and the U.S., denuclearization on the peninsula and North Korea's development of its economy", Mr. Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV.
"We're still hopeful that the meeting will take place and we'll continue down that path", Sanders told Fox News.
KCNA called the Maximum Thunder exercises "the largest-ever and a reflection of the invariable stand of the US and South Korea to persist in the "maximum pressure and sanctions" against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]". Asked if he will still insist on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, Trump said, "Yes".
North Korea believes that the military exercise threatens warming ties on the divided peninsula.
The White House said plans for the summit were moving ahead.
The direction from the Oval Office to White House aides and other USA national security agencies Wednesday was to downplay the North Korean threats and not "take the bait" by overreacting to the provocation, said a senior US official. On one board will be the future of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, what Trump came to negotiate.
"The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities".
Chinese President Xi Jinping has met Kim twice over the last two months, as Beijing warms to its Cold War-era ally following a chill in relations.
North Korea's announcement, issued Tuesday evening by state news organization KCNA, appeared to catch the State Department off guard, with spokesperson Heather Nauert telling reporters the US had not heard from North Korea directly before the announcement.