North Korean chief negotiator Kim Myong-gil said Saturday that dialogue with Washington on North Korea’s disarmament is suspended, but the U.S. State Department said the two sides have had “good talks” and plans to attend another meeting in two weeks.
The North Korean delegation and the U.S. team resumed their negotiations on denuclearization in Stockholm on Saturday, which have been stalled since February due to the differences shown by both countries regarding the model for disarming the regime.
At the end of the meeting, the two sides offered the press different versions of what had happened and did not even agree on whether or not the dialogue would continue in the future.
The first to speak was the North Korean chief negotiator, Kim Myong-gil, who told journalists in Stockholm that the negotiations had been suspended because Washington had been inflexible in its positions on disarmament.
“The negotiations have not lived up to our expectations and were finally interrupted,” Kim said, according to the BBC.
Hours later, in a statement, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said North Korea’s comments “do not reflect the current spirit of the eight-and-a-half hour negotiation.
“The United States contributed creative ideas and had good conversations with its North Korean counterparts,” Ortagus said.
In those negotiations, according to Washington, the U.S. delegation “reviewed the events” that have followed the historic Singapore summit on June 12, 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to work for the “complete denuclearization of the peninsula,” but did not specify what that process would consist of.
“The U.S. delegation reviewed the events that have followed the Singapore summit and have talked about the importance of a more intense commitment to resolve the many problems that concern both sides,” Ortagus said.
According to the spokeswoman, Washington has accepted an invitation from the Swedish government to attend Stockholm again in two weeks and continue the dialogue with the North Korean delegation.
“The US and North Korea will not surpass a legacy of 70 years and hostility on the Korean peninsula in the course of a single Saturday. These are important issues and require a strong commitment from both countries. The United States has that commitment,” Ortagus said.
The talks between the two sides have been surrounded by a great deal of secrecy, which had been seen as a sign of both sides’ interest in avoiding media noise and breaking the blockade that has persisted since the Hanoi summit in February.
In Hanoi, North Korea called for denuclearization and a gradual relaxation of sanctions, which the White House deemed unacceptable because it wants the disarmament process to begin immediately.