US, North Korea at odds on outcome of nuclear talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) stands with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and other aides during a break from meetings with North Korean senior ruling party official Kim Yong Chol, at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, on Jul
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) stands with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and other aides during a break from meetings with North Korean senior ruling party official Kim Yong Chol, at the Park Hwa Guest House in Pyongyang, on July 7, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pompeo says progress made on central issues, but North slams US for 'gangster-like demands'

The United States and North Korea were at odds on the outcome of high-level talks that ended yesterday, with Washington touting progress but Pyongyang slamming the US for its "deeply regrettable attitude" that harked back to a "cancerous past".

Hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed Pyongyang following the two-day meeting, the North's Foreign Affairs Ministry - through a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency - lashed out at the "unilateral and gangster-like demands for denuclearisation" from the US.

This was despite Mr Pompeo's positive assessment of his talks with Mr Kim Yong Chol, a top party official and former spy chief. He said progress was made "on almost all of the central issues" and negotiations were "productive and in good faith".

But Pyongyang had called the outcome of the talks "really troubling".

"We expected that the US would come with constructive measures that are conducive to building trust, in line with the spirit of the North Korea-US summit, and we considered providing something that would correspond to them," the Foreign Affairs Ministry statement said.

North Korea's resolve to give up its nuclear programme may waver as the talks had resulted in a "dangerous situation", it added. But it said it "still has faith" in US President Donald Trump, as it called for a "phased and synchronous approach".

Mr Pompeo's visit, the third since March, marked the highest-level talks since the Singapore summit on June 12, during which Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inked a declaration that has been criticised for being scant on details.

 
 
 

The top US diplomat's trip was meant to hash out the details on how to roll out the declaration. Unlike his previous visits, he did not meet Mr Kim, though he helped to deliver a letter from Mr Trump.

Mr Pompeo told reporters "a good deal of time" was spent on "complicated issues", such as how the North can make a full declaration of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapon stockpiles, set a timeline for giving them up, as well as the "modalities" of how its intended demolition of a missile-engine testing facility would look like.

"These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues," he said.

Mr Kim Yong Chol replied: "We will produce an outcome, results."

The visit had come amid doubts over the North's will to denuclearise, and questions over whether the US has softened its push for "complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement" of the North's nuclear weapons.

But Mr Pompeo had said North Korea "is still equally committed" to complete denuclearisation.

He arrived in Tokyo last evening and will give an update on the talks to Japanese and South Korean counterparts Taro Kono and Kang Kyung-wha today. He will also meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 08, 2018, with the headline 'US, North Korea at odds on outcome of nuclear talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe