Kim departs from a summit with South Korea's president. Photo: Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images

North Korea has cancelled talks with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday, and threatened to cancel next month's summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over joint U.S.-South Korean military drills, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Why it matters: This is a dramatic change in tone from North Korea, which recently released three U.S. prisoners and began dismantling a nuclear test site as part of efforts to lay the groundwork for talks with Trump. North Korea has long viewed joint drills as rehearsals for invasion, but had remained uncharacteristically silent about exercises last month. Tuesday's objections were over an air force drill that began last week.

The statement, issued via the KCNA news agency, reads in part:

"This exercise targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula. 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."

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. had "no information" on what was behind the North Korean warning:

"What we have to go on is what Kim Jong-un had said before, that he understands and appeciates the importance to the United States of having these joint exercises ... we will continue to go ahead and plan the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un."

The Pentagon emphasized that that exercises were routine:

"While we will not discuss specifics, the defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed." 

Between the lines: With one month to go before the summit, scheduled for June 12th in Singapore, North Korea appears to be testing the Trump administration's boundaries. Josh Pollack, editor of the non proliferation review, says North Korea objects to Trump's "maximum pressure" stance. "They want to see a change in tone from the US, and so far they’re not seeing it," he says.

Go deeper

Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 12,607,510 — Total deaths: 562,338 — Total recoveries — 6,948,863Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 3,228,884 — Total deaths: 134,600 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,919,421Map.
  3. Public health: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: "Please wear a mask to save lives" Fauci hasn't briefed Trump on the coronavirus pandemic in at least two months — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  4. Food: How the coronavirus pandemic boosted alternative meat.
  5. Sports: Charge of "money grab" by college football.
  6. World: India reimposes lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar.