US-N.Korea nuclear talks collapse in Sweden

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. – Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have become on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Stockholm, Oct 6 (IANS) The highly anticipated working-level nuclear talks between the US and North Korea in the Swedish capital of Stockholm have collapsed, with Pyongyang accusing Washington of coming to the negotiation table “empty-handed”, media reports said on Sunday.

Saturday’s meeting marked the first formal negotiation between the two sides since February’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi collapsed due to gaps over the extent of Pyongyang’s denuclearization and Washington’s sanctions relief, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Speaking to reporters outside the North Korean Embassy here after holding talks with his US counterpart, Stephen Biegun, Pyongyang’s chief negotiator Kim Myong-gil said: “The negotiation did not live up to our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased.

“It is entirely because the US has not discarded its old stance and attitude that the negotiation this time failed to produce any results.”

Kim Myong-gil added that the North could enter discussions on the “next phase” of its denuclearization measures if Washington replied “sincerely” to Pyongyang’s earlier measures including the 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 US has heightened expectations. But it came out with nothing, greatly disappointed us and sapped our appetite for negotiations.

“We have already clearly explained to the US what calculation method was needed and given it sufficient time, but the US came to the negotiations empty-handed and this, after all, shows it is not willing to solve the issue,” he added.

But the US State Department said that its delegation had “good discussions” with their North Korean counterparts on Saturday and has accepted an invitation from Sweden to “return to Stockholm to meet again in two weeks time, in order to continue discussions on all of the topics”, Xinhua news agency reported.

The State Department’s announcement came hours after Kim Myong-gil’s statement.

Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, contradicting Kim Myong-gil’s remarks, said on Saturday night that the comments from the North Korean delegation “do not reflect the content or the spirit of today’s eight and a half hour discussion”.

It remains unknown if Pyongyang has also agreed to meet the US delegation again in Stockholm in the following weeks.

Saturday’s talks come after Kim Jong-un and Trump at an impromptu meeting this June at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom agreed to restart working-level talks.

The two leaders had first met in Singapore in June 2018.

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