North Korean delegates, including top negotiator Kim Myong-gil, leave the country's embassy in Stockholm on Saturday to attend a meeting with U.S. officials to prepare for formal working-level nuclear talks. Photo courtesy of Joint Press Corps/Yonhap
Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The United States had "good discussions" with North Korea during working-level negotiations on denuclearizing the regime, the State Department said Saturday, disputing the North's characterization of the talks as a failure.
U.S. and North Korean officials met in Stockholm, Sweden, earlier in the day to resume working-level talks that had stalled since the collapse of February's second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Myong-gil, the North's chief negotiator, told reporters after meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, that the talks broke down to the failure of the U.S. to come up with a new proposal.
"The early comments from the DPRK delegation do not reflect the content or the spirit of today's 8 1/2- hour discussion," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts," she said, adding that the U.S. delegation also "previewed a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress" on each of the four main agreements reached at the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore in June 2018.
That summit produced an agreement committing the North to "work toward" complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.
At the end of the meeting, Ortagus said, the U.S. proposed accepting Sweden's invitation to return to Stockholm in two weeks time to continue discussions. The U.S. accepted that invitation, she said.
"The United States and the DPRK will not overcome a legacy of 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula through the course of a single Saturday," Ortagus said. "These are weighty issues, and they require a strong commitment by both countries. The United States has that commitment."
The two countries have wrangled over how much the North should denuclearize before it receives sanctions relief and security guarantees from the U.S.
The gap caused the second summit in Vietnam between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi to end without a deal.
Recent months have seen North Korea resume its testing of short-range ballistic missiles, although it has refrained from conducting nuclear weapons or long-range missile tests since beginning diplomacy with the U.S. early last year.
This week, the regime tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile in a move apparently aimed at increasing its leverage in talks with the U.S.
"The negotiation did not live up to our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased," Kim said. "It is entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude that the negotiation this time failed to produce any results."
Kim also said that he told the U.S. that the North can enter discussions on the "next phase" of its denuclearization measures if the U.S. replies "sincerely" to the North's earlier measures such as its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
"While having so far hinted at a flexible approach, new method and creative solution, the U.S. has heightened expectations. But it came out with nothing, greatly disappointed us and sapped our appetite for negotiations," he said.
"We have already clearly explained to the U.S. what calculation method was needed and given it sufficient time, but the U.S. came to the negotiations empty-handed and this, after all, shows it is not willing to solve the issue," he added.