NATIONAL

North Korea says future of nuclear talks depends on US

By Park Han-na
  • Published : Oct 7, 2019 - 16:00
  • Updated : Oct 7, 2019 - 16:03

North Korea said Monday that it is up to the US to decide whether to hold follow-up nuclear talks with the regime, warning unpreparedness could lead to “terrible consequences” after claiming their working-level meeting in Sweden had broken down.

Resorting to harsh language, North Korea’s top nuclear envoy Kim Myong-gil expressed his frustration at not making progress during his meeting with the US delegation -- headed by US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun -- on an island northeast of Stockholm on Saturday.

“It’s up to the US whether to hold talks later on,” Kim told reporters upon his arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport en route to Pyongyang.

“Ask the US whether to continue talks. ... If the US is not well prepared, who knows what terrible incident could happen. Let’s wait and see,” he said.


North Korea’s top nuclear envoy Kim Myong-gil speaks to reporters upon his arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport en route to Pyongyang. (Yonhap)

Kim was skeptical of the next round of talks being held in the coming weeks. Washington has accepted Sweden’s offer to host the meeting in two weeks’ time.

“The US barely came up with a new method of calculation in some 100 days since the meeting in Panmunjom. Do you think they can do it in two weeks?” Kim said, referring to an impromptu encounter between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone on June 30.

Following the Stockholm meeting, the North Korean diplomat and the country’s Foreign Ministry complained that the US delegation had failed to bring a package of deals, urging the US to provide security guarantees and lift sanctions.

“We have no desire to engage in such a revolting negotiation as this one until the US carries out practical measures to completely and irreversibly withdraw its hostile policy which threatens the safety of our nation and undermines our people’s right to survive and develop,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a press statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Sunday.

The US denied that the nuclear talks had ended in failure, insisting they had good discussions, including dialogue on the importance of “more intensive engagement to solve the many issues of concern for both sides.”

Experts said Pyongyang seeks to bypass working with government representatives and deal directly with the US president in order to avoid detailed discussions on denuclearization. On the other hand, Washington is trying to focus on working-level talks for now.

North Korea, however, is unlikely to risk spoiling the mood for dialogue by taking provocative actions, such as an intercontinental ballistic missile test, said Cho Han-bum, a senior analyst at the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification.

“Including the North’s recent launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, it is taking out powerful cards to put pressure on the US. Similar (military) actions are expected down the road. But not too strong ones that could break the mood,” he said.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)


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