Officials from North Korea and the US had met for talks in Sweden on Saturday in an effort to seek a way through the current impasse in negotiations. They met on an island north-east of Stockholm called Lidingo, where North Korea has its embassy. However, the Koreans, led by their top nuclear envoy Kim Myong Gil, left the meeting early and later issued an angry statement saying that the US side had brought “nothing to the negotiation table” and needed to get rid of their “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang.
A day after the meeting, the North Korean Central News Agency published a statement giving the Americans a deadline until the end of the year to find a workable solution.
The statement read: “As we have clearly identified the way for solving the problem, the fate of the future DPRK-U.S. dialogue depends on the U.S. attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline.”
Later the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued its own statement, accusing the US of bad faith in the negotiations.
The Foreign Ministry said: “The U.S. is misleading the public opinion, insisting … they had a wonderful discussion with the DPRK side … The recent negotiations have left us sceptical about the U.S. political will to improve the DPRK-U.S. relations and made us think if it isn’t its real intention to abuse the bilateral relations for gratifying its party interests.”
For their part, American officials insisted that the talks had been productive and that “good discussions” were had.
Morgan Ortagus, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, rebuffed North Korean claims that the talks had ended in failure.
She said: “The early comments from the DPRK delegation do not reflect the content or the spirit of today’s 8.5-hour discussion.”
She insisted that ”the US brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts.”
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The talk were the first formal-level discussions since June when President Trump and Kim Jung-Un met briefly at the inter-Korean border.
The talks were expected to pave the way for another summit between the two leaders.
They had previously met in Singapore in 2018, which resulted in a vague denuclearisation agreement, before meeting again in Vietnam in February of this year, where no agreement was reached.
Trump, who once called the North Korean leader “rocket man”, is desperate to get some tangible results in his foreign policy initiatives to help boost his campaign for reelection in 2020.
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One of his main objectives has been to try and persuade Kim to abandon his nuclear weapons programme, offering substantial economic packages, including the lifting of economic sanctions, as a means of compensation.
However, the North Korean strongman, who has already initiated market reforms, is not interested in economic aid, according to a North Korean specialist.
David Pinkston, a lecturer in international relations at the Seol campus of Troy University, argues that nuclear weapons give the Kim regime power and legitimacy.
And according to North Korean ideology, the power the regime gains from its nuclear weapons also gives it the ability to build up its economic might.
Mr Pinkston said that “if the state is stronger and more powerful, then the state is better positioned to pursue and achieve other goals, whatever they might be, including economic development.”
As President Kim and his elites see things, nuclear weapons allow North Korea to retain its economic independence.
This is a reflection of the country’s ruling philosophy of “juche,” or self-reliance.
As Laura Rosenberger, senior fellow and director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, explains, “dependency is something they are really concerned about. They’re going to want economic benefits on their terms.”
The latest talks between North Korea and the US came after North Korea confirmed that it had successfully test-fired a new type of ballistic missile last Thursday, which many analysts described as a significant escalation from the short-range tests it has conducted since May.
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