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North Korea says nuclear talks in Sweden with US broke down ‘entirely’

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Former national security adviser John Bolton gave a pessimistic outlook on the prospects for getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons as he made his first public appearance since he was ousted from his post by President Donald Trump. (Sept. 30)
AP, AP

North Korean and U.S. officials had different takes on their meeting Saturday in Sweden aimed at renewing negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

North Korea’s chief negotiator said the talks broke down because of the U.S. “attitude,” while American officials said they had “good discussions.” 

North Korean negotiator Kim Miyong Gil said the talks had “not fulfilled our expectations and broke down.” 

“I am very displeased about it,” said Kim, adding that the talks ended “entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude.” He made his statement via an interpreter outside the North Korean embassy.

But State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that North Korea’s description of events “not reflect the content or the spirit of today’s 8 1/2 hour discussion.” 

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She said the “U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts” and that the U.S. proposed several initiatives that could lead to progress on the principles agreed to by President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their 2018 summit in Singapore. 

After that meeting, the two leaders signed a joint statement outlining four agreed-to goals: to reestablish U.S.-North Korean relations, to build “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” the “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula, and recover US soldiers’ remains. 

Speaking to reporters earlier Saturday in Greece, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said he was “very hopeful” that, despite a monthslong impasse, negotiators could make progress in Stockholm on the “four pillars that the two leaders agreed to.” 

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“We came with a set of ideas. We hope that the North Koreans came with a good spirit and a willingness to try to move forward to implement what President Trump and Chairman Kim agreed to back in Singapore,” he said.

After Trump and Kim’s second summit, which took place in Vietnam, was cut short in February, North Korea resumed missile tests, including an underwater-launched missile that fell inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone Wednesday. 

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“We’re mindful this will be the first time we’ve had a chance to have a discussion in quite some time, and that there remains to be a lot of work that will have to be done by the two teams,” Pompeo added. “But we hope these initial meetings can set the course for a set of dialogues that can take place in the coming weeks and months.” 

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Ortagus said the U.S. accepted Swedish officials’ offer to host another meeting in two weeks. She did not say if North Korea had also agreed to attend. 

“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,” she said. “These are weighty issues, and they require a strong commitment by both countries. The United States has that commitment.” 

Contributing: The Associated Press 

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