North Korea ends nuclear talks with the US just HOURS after they started and blames America for bringing ‘nothing to the negotiation table’ – but Washington claims the talks went well
- North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator announced end of talks in Stockholm
- Working-level discussions began on Thursday in the Swedish capital
- A day earlier, the North successfully test-fired submarine-launched missile
Working-level nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States have broken off, North Korea’s chief negotiator said on Saturday.
‘The negotiations have not fulfilled our expectation and finally broke off,’ the North’s chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, told reporters through an interpreter outside the country’s embassy in Stockholm.
The North Korean delegation arrived in Stockholm on Thursday for the working-level denuclearization talks.
Kim blamed Washington for bringing ‘nothing to the negotiation table’ at the meeting, which came after months of stalemate.
He said talks broke down ‘entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude.’
North’s chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Myong Gil (seen on the steps), gives a statement to the media outside Pyongyang’s embassy in Stockholm, Sweden on Saturday
But State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Kim’s comments did ‘not reflect the content or the spirit’ of the ‘good discussions’ that took place over eight-and-a-half hours, adding that the U.S. accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue discussions.
The talks with Stephen Biegun, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy, were a much-anticipated resumption of dialogue after a Hanoi meeting in late February between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to yield a breakthrough.
It came also after Pyongyang’s defiant test of a sea-launched ballistic missile this week.
An underwater-launched missile fell inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone Wednesday.
‘The US raised expectations and offered suggestions like flexible approach, new methods and creative solutions but they have disappointed us greatly, and dampened our enthusiasm for negotiations by bringing nothing to the negotiation table,’ Kim said.
The situation on the Korean peninsula ‘stands at the crossroads of dialogue or confrontation,’ he said.
The meeting place was a heavily guarded venue on an island off Stockholm, several hundred yards from the North Korean embassy, an AFP correspondent said.
Because the U.S. does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden has often acted as a bridge between Washington and Pyongyang.
As it got underway, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted: ‘I am encouraged that US and (North Korean) working level delegations are currently in Sweden to hold talks.
Pyongyang tested what it called a ‘super-large’ rocket on Wednesday just hours after it said it was willing to resume working-level talks with Washington
‘Dialogue needed to reach denuclearization and peaceful solution,’ she said.
In a statement, Ortagus said the U.S. delegation ‘previewed a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress in each of the four pillars’ of a joint statement issued after Trump and Kim’s first summit in Singapore.
‘The United States and the DPRK will not overcome a legacy of 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula through the course of a single Saturday,’ Ortagus said
Similar-level talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament were held in Stockholm in March 2018 and then in January this year.
North Korea claimed to have entered a new phase in its defense capability with Wednesday’s test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile – the most provocative since Pyongyang began a dialogue with Washington in 2018.
North Korea frequently couples diplomatic overtures with military moves as a way of maintaining pressure on negotiating partners, analysts say, and may believe this weapons system gives it added leverage.
The Pentagon said Thursday the missile seems to have been launched from a ‘sea-based platform’ and not a submarine.
Trump has said he sees no problem with a string of short-range rocket tests conducted previously by North Korea, while insisting his personal ties with the North’s leader remain good.
The launch was the most provocative by North Korea since it resumed dialogue with the United States in 2018. UN Security Council resolutions ban Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology.
Photos carried by Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a black and white missile emerging from the water and appearing to shoot into the sky.
The images also showed a small towing vessel next to the missile, which analysts said indicates the test was conducted from a submersible barge rather than an actual submarine, and that the system was in its early stages.
‘The new-type ballistic missile was fired in vertical mode’ in the waters off Wonsan Bay, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, identifying the weapon as a Pukguksong-3 and saying it ‘ushered in a new phase in containing the outside forces’ threat.’
The United Nations Security Council meanwhile is expected to hold closed-door talks early next week on the latest test, diplomats said.
Those talks were requested by Britain, France and Germany, as the European powers push for the world body to keep up pressure on Pyongyang which is under heavy US and UN sanctions over its weapons program.
North Korea is banned from ballistic missile launches by Security Council resolutions.
It is also under three sets of UN sanctions adopted in 2017 in an effort to force it to give up its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.
The North Koreans and the United States broke off negotiations just hours after they started. The above image shows President Trump (right) with Kim Jong-un at their first summit in Singapore in June 2018
They limit North Korea’s oil imports and impose bans linked to its exports of coal, fish and textiles.
Since the US-North Korea talks began, Russia and China have been calling for the UN to start lifting sanctions so as to create momentum towards the North’s denuclearization.
But the United States has refused.
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