North Korea pulls out of nuclear talks after US insist two sides had ‘good discussions’

Pyonyang says negotiations collapsed ‘entirely because the US has not discarded its old stance and attitude’

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 06 October 2019 18:49
Trump and Kim Jong Un during a previous meeting
Trump and Kim Jong Un during a previous meeting

Nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States have broken down, Pyongyang’s chief negotiator has said, despite Washington’s assurances the two sides had “good discussions” in Sweden.

Kim Myong Gil said the talks in Stockholm on Saturday had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased about it.”

Speaking outside the North Korean Embassy, he said negotiations had broken down “entirely because the US has not discarded its old stance and attitude” and came to the negotiating table with an “empty hand”.

However, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Mr Kim’s comments did “not reflect the content or the spirit” of the “good discussions” that took place over eight-and-a-half hours.

She said the US had accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue discussions.

In a statement, Ms Ortagus said the US 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 Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un’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,” Ms Ortagus said. The DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.

“These are weighty issues, and they require a strong commitment by both countries. The United States has that commitment.”

The talks on Saturday were the first between the US and North Korea since the breakdown of the second summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim in Vietnam in February.

The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in June and agreed to restart diplomacy.

North Korea has since resumed testing missiles and other weapons, including the first test of an underwater-launched missile in three years that fell inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Wednesday.

Donald Trump featured in commemorative stamps in North Korea

The latest talks were held at the Villa Elfvik Strand conference facility in Lidingo, an island in the Stockholm archipelago located northeast of the capital, Swedish news agency TT said.

Because the US does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden has often acted as a bridge between Washington and Pyongyang.

Additional reporting by agencies

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