North Korean negotiator says future talks depend on US proposals

North Korea called Saturday's nuclear disarmament negotiations "very bad" and contradicts U.S. claims that both sides are open to further talks. 

Kyodo News via AP
North Korean negotiator Kim Miyong Gil (center) reads a statement outside the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 5, 2019, saying weekend discussions with the U.S. failed. Washington said that it intends to build on these talks in two weeks.

It's up to Washington to alter its approach if it wants more talks with North Korea, Pyongyang's chief nuclear negotiator said Monday, after weekend discussions between the sides broke down amid acrimony.

Kim Myong Gil made the remarks at Beijing's airport on his way back to North Korea following talks with his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, on Saturday that Mr. Kim described as "very bad and sickening."

"Whether or not there are further talks will depend on the U.S.," Mr. Kim told reporters.

"Whether there will be any shocking actions that nobody would expect to see if the U.S. is not ready, nobody knows. Let's wait and see," he said.

On Sunday night, North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing the United States of trying to mislead the public and "spreading a completely ungrounded story that both sides are open to meet" again.

The Stockholm talks "made us think they have no political will to improve [North Korea]-U.S. relations and may be abusing the bilateral relations for their own partisan interests at home," the statement said.

Saturday's talks were the first since the second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed in Vietnam in February due to squabbling over how much sanctions relief should be given to the North in return for dismantling its main nuclear complex.

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

Sweden invited North Korea and the U.S. to come back to Stockholm in two weeks for another round of negotiations. Sweden often acts as a bridge between Washington and Pyongyang because the U.S. does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea.

While the North has shown itself receptive to talks without preconditions, Mr. Kim, the chief negotiator, sounded skeptical in his remarks about the chances for future success.

"It has been almost 100 days since the leaders' meeting in Panmunjom and [the U.S. has] not presented any new initiative. Do you think they will come up with a new one in two weeks?" Mr. Kim told reporters after being asked if North Korea would accept the invitation.

North Korea has demanded the U.S. come up with mutually acceptable proposals to salvage the nuclear diplomacy by the end of this year.

U.S.-led diplomacy on how to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons collapsed after Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Kim's demand for sweeping sanctions relief in return for partial disarmament steps during their Vietnam summit.

Many experts say recent weapons tests by North Korea were mainly aimed at applying pressure on the U.S. ahead of a possible resumption of talks.

Most of the weapons tested were short-range missiles and rockets that experts said could target South Korea, not the mainland U.S.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. 

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