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‘N. Korea wants innovative approach from US for nuke talks’

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said Thursday that North Korea may be seeking an epoch-making approach from the US for a breakthrough in their deadlocked nuclear talks.

Nuclear negotiators from Washington and Pyongyang resumed stalled working-level talks in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 5, seven months after a disappointing summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

But the two countries failed to make tangible progress in their recent meeting.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul speaks during a parlimentary audit at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul speaks during a parlimentary audit at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

“The US and North Korea have slightly different views (on their working-level talks). The US would like to continue to have a dialogue while North Korea wants to change (the approach) dramatically,” Kim said during a parliamentary audit.

During the working-level talks, Kim said, the two countries discussed each of the four pillars of a joint statement they inked at their first summit in 2018 but seemed to have “not enough time to nail how to achieve a balance among the four points in detail.”

The four-point statement includes promises to establish new US-North Korea relations, build a lasting peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, work toward the complete denuclearization of the peninsula and repatriate the remains of US soldiers who died during the Korean War.

The Unification Ministry said it will support a “fundamental change” in relations between the US and North Korea by continually seeking dialogue with the North.

“Through continued dialogue, mutual security guarantees and close coordination with relevant countries, (the government) will provide support for bringing about a fundamental change in US-North Korea relations,” the ministry said.

The ministry also pledged efforts to bring about a positive outcome for major points in the agreements between the two Koreas -- the Panmunjom Declaration of April 2018 and the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018.

The North has been lukewarm to the South’s various proposals for cooperation since its summit with the US in Hanoi ended without an agreement in February. Pyongyang blames Seoul for the failed talks.

There was no response to Seoul’s requests to cooperate on the prevention of the spread of African swine fever or for a high-level military officials’ meeting and a working-level meeting on sports exchanges.

The latest setback in inter-Korean relations was the failure to persuade the North to allow South Korean TV stations to broadcast the FIFA World Cup qualifier match between South Korea and North Korea live. The game was held in Pyongyang on Tuesday.

The match became available for viewing here only after the South Korean players returned home Wednesday morning with a DVD containing a video of the game.

The minister apologized for the failure of the negotiations with the North.

“I feel a heavy sense of responsibility as a minister. … I will make more efforts to improve (inter-Korean relations),” he said.

On Thursday, South Korean public broadcaster KBS said it had decided not to broadcast the prerecorded video of the match, which was initially scheduled to air at 5 p.m. Thursday, citing the low-quality of the footage.

North Korea did not allow South Korean media or spectators to visit and refused a request to send cheering squads.

By Park Han-na (