North Korea lashes out at USA, calls talks 'extremely regrettable'

08 July, 2018, 02:41 | Author: Carlos George
  • Trump reportedly raised the idea in August 2017 during a meeting about sanctions the United States has imposed on oil rich Venezuela

North Korea's state media have reported the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a day after he arrived in Pyongyang but did not describe the nature of his talks with North Korean officials over the future of the country's nuclear weapons program.

Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol, dictator Kim Jong Un's top adviser and North Korea's former spy chief, exchanged pleasantries before the second meeting between the two countries.

The North's foreign ministry said the "extremely regrettable" United States attitude during the meeting violated the spirit of the agreement reached between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump last month at their historic summit in Singapore.

"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".

Saturday's foreign ministry statement, however, did suggest Pyongyang would continue to engage in talks, saying that "we still have faith in President Trump" and that the country has a "firm, steadfast" resolve to denuclearize the peninsula.

Pompeo said the two sides agreed to hold discussions on July 12 on the repatriation of remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War, and also discussed "modalities" for the destruction of a missile engine testing facility.

"Our expectation is exactly what the president and Kim Jong-un jointly agreed to in Singapore, and that is the denuclearization of North Korea", Nauert said, adding that "progress" toward that goal had been made.

Unlike his previous visits, which have been one-day affairs during which he has met with Kim Jong Un, Pompeo spent the night at a government guesthouse in Pyongyang and did not see the North Korean leader, although USA officials had suggested such a meeting was expected.

The spokesman, apparently rejecting the US demand, reiterated Pyongyang's call for a "phased" and "synchronous" approach, saying that it would be the fastest way to denuclearize.

When asked about the apparent tensions, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, "There's a lot of hard work to be done".

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The statement came hours after Pompeo departed after meetings led by Kim Yong Chol, a senior aide to Kim. "So thinking about those discussions you might have not slept well last night".

Before he left Pyongyang, Pompeo said United States negotiators and their North Korean counterparts discussed the idea of a full declaration of North Korean weapons of mass destruction stockpiles, and setting a timeline for giving them up.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left for North Korea Thursday for a round of diplomatic talks, reportedly carrying with him a letter from President Trump and a CD of Elton John songs, including "Rocket Man", according to the Chosen Ilbo newspaper.

Pompeo, who was on his third visit to Pyongyang, began the outreach when he was still Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director and remained the pointman on negotiations after the process became public and he became secretary of state.

The threat comes just a few weeks after Mr Trump said a process of "total denuclearisation has already started" and that North Korea was blowing up four of its big test sites.

Kim Yong Chol said earlier Saturday that he and Pompeo conducted "very serious discussions on very important matters yesterday" but later added that "there are things that I have to clarify".

Mr Pompeo said more talks are needed on both.

Pompeo and Kim met for almost three hours Friday and then had dinner amid growing skepticism over how serious Kim Jong Un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following his summit with Trump into concrete action. Nauert didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about North Korea's latest statement.

KCNA said the North also offered to discuss declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War marking next month's anniversary of the armistice agreement, but the USA side showed little interest, giving "certain conditions and excuses".

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