United States attitude during denuclearization talks 'regrettable', says North Korea

Hugh Fox
July 10, 2018

North Korea balked Saturday at the latest round of denuclearization talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling the negotiations "extremely troubling" and warning the deal could collapse.

North Korea said it offered to discuss the closure of a missile engine test site, which would "physically affirm" a move to halt the production of intercontinental range ballistic missiles, and setting up working-level discussions for the return of U.S. war remains.

Trump famously declared "there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea" after his June 12 summit with the dictator, though the President likely knows the regime still remains a threat.

State media said the regime's "firm, steadfast" resolve to give up its nuclear programmes may falter after the United States demanded unilateral denuclearisation during two days of talks in Pyongyang.

About 7,700 U.S. military personnel remain unaccounted from the Korean War, U.S. military data shows. "We had detailed and substantive discussions about the next steps towards a fully verified and complete denuclearization".

The ministers stressed the need to call on North Korea to take concrete steps toward denuclearization and to keep existing United Nations economic sanctions in place.

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On Sunday, the U.S. secretary of state will meet the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea in Tokyo. "If Americans go to North Korea and start living there, then there's virtually no chance that the USA would attack it or start lobbing bombs there".

Trump has already faced criticism for being too quick to make security concessions to Kim, including his unilateral suspension of military exercises with South Korea.

Speaking privately, U.S. officials suggested the North Korean statement was a negotiating tactic. The ministry said Mr. Kim had written a personal letter to Mr. Trump, reiterating that trust. Despite the negative sentiment, Pyongyang expressed willingness to abide by an agreement signed by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"The administration should press on with talks and expect more stumbling blocks along the way, but it must be careful that nuclear talks aren't held hostage to peace talks".

President Donald Trump was accused of forcing the North Korea summit "for headlines" by MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

Public display of the North's culture or bringing North Korean figures to the South requires authorization from several state bodies, including Seoul's unification ministry and spy agency.

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Robert Gallucci, who led the U.S in direct talks with North Korea beginning in mid-1993, said while the two statements contrasted he does not see Pyongyang's statement as "devastating in any way" to future talks. More than 36,500 USA troops died in the conflict.

Pompeo said the North Korea diplomats "did not push back" in his discussions with them in Pyongyang.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said there was never an expectation that Pompeo would meet with Kim, although other USA government officials previously indicated that was the plan.

"The US is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset", the statement said, referring to North Korea by its official initials. The US will have a harder time reapplying pressure after Kim used his detente with Trump to improve ties with key neighbors such as China and South Korea.

"(It) will take place at the border and that process will begin to develop over the days that follow", he said as he boarded his plane for Tokyo.

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