North Korea claims that its negotiations with the United States over its nuclear weapons program broke down on Saturday, although the U.S. sees it differently.
This latest turn of events comes after North Korea announced earlier this week that it would resume its talks with the United States on its nuclear program, months after negotiations between the two countries collapsed when Pyongyang said American demands were unreasonable.
But North Korea’s chief negotiator said after hours of talks Saturday in Stockholm that the discussions “have not fulfilled our expectation and finally broke up.”
“The breakup of the negotiation without any outcome is due to the fact that the U.S. would not give up their old viewpoint and attitude,” North Korean diplomat Kim Myong Gil said.
“The U.S. raised expectations by offering suggestions like flexible approaches, new methods and creative solutions, but they have disappointed us greatly and dampened our enthusiasm for negotiations by bringing nothing to the negotiation table,” he added.
The State Department rejected this characterization of the talks, saying in a statement by spokesperson Morgan Ortagus that North Korea’s comments “do not reflect the content or the spirit of today’s 8 1/2 hour discussion.”
“The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions” with its North Korean counterparts, Ortagus said.
He added that the U.S. has already accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue the negotiations.
“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 in the statement, using the country’s full title of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “These are weighty issues, and they require a strong commitment by both countries. The United States has that commitment.”
The two sides had not met since February at the working level, and North Korea had indicated it would not consider further negotiations until the U.S. dropped a demand for unilateral disarmament.
Tensions appeared to have eased a bit after Gil applauded President Donald Trump’s decision to fire his then-national security security adviser, John Bolton.
Bolton said in his first public remarks after his contentious departure from the White House that Trump’s approach to North Korea would not yield results. The country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, never planned to give up his nuclear weapons in these negotiations, he said.
“Under current circumstances he will never give up the nuclear weapons voluntarily,” Bolton said during an appearance at a forum on U.S.-Korea policy.