PYONGYANG: North Korea said Saturday that high-level talks with a US delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were "regrettable" and accused Washington of trying to unilaterally pressure the country into abandoning its nukes.
The North's statement came hours after Pompeo wrapped up two days of talks with senior North Korean officials without meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but with commitments for new discussions on denuclearization and the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.
Before departing Pyongyang, Pompeo told reporters that his conversations with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol had been "productive," conducted "in good faith" and that "a great deal of progress" had been made in some areas. He stressed that "there's still more work to be done" in other areas, much of which would be done by working groups that the two sides have set up to deal with specific issues.
The North provided a much harsher assessment of the talks. In a statement released by an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman, the North accused the United States of betraying the spirit of last month's summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim by making "one-sided and robber-like" demands on "CVID," or the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.
It said the outcome of the follow-up talks was "very concerning" because it has led to a "dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm."
"We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders' summit ... we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures," said the statement, carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
"However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable," the spokesman said. "Our expectations and hopes were so naive it could be called foolish."
According to the spokesman, during the talks with Pompeo the North raised the issue of a possible declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which concluded with an armistice and not a peace treaty. It also offered to discuss the closure of a missile engine test site that would "physically affirm" a move to halt the production of intercontinental range ballistic missiles and setting up working-level discussions for the return of U.S. war remains.