North Korea says talks with Pompeo were 'regrettable'

Saul Bowman
July 9, 2018

After discussions in Pyongyang, North Korea's foreign ministry said that the USA was making unilateral demands aimed at forcing it into giving up its nuclear arsenal.

The isolated nation might now waver in its "firm, steadfast" resolution to give up its nuclear program, it said.

Some officials in the State and Defense Departments and in USA intelligence agencies are anxious that Trump has put himself at a disadvantage by overstating the results of the Singapore summit.

As Mr. Pompeo departed Pyongyang, he told reporter that the talks achieved progress "on nearly all of the central issues" in the talks, including on setting a timeline for its denuclearisation, though more work remained to be done.

Remarkably, the North Korean foreign ministry seemed taken aback by the USA calls that it abandon its nuclear arsenal - ostensibly the entire point behind last month's meeting in Singapore between Trump and Kim. Kim ended Pompeo's visit on a positive note, telling the top USA diplomat just before he boarded his plane, "We will produce an outcome, results".

After talks with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea on Sunday, the secretary of state said his efforts to press the North on nuclear weapons were legitimate.

Pompeo responded that he had slept "just fine" but the exchange suggested tougher talks ahead.

As Saturday's meeting got under way Kim Yong-chol joked that Mr Pompeo may not have slept well during his overnight stay at a guesthouse in Pyongyang.

But Ji-won the North Koreans seem to have taken a different view, to say the least, about that meeting.

Whether the North will set a concrete time line for denuclearization and honestly declare all of its facilities related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs will be the very first and perhaps the most important steps for denuclearization, multiple senior officials at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo have said.

He added that he believes it was a "mistake" for Trump to agree to call off military exercises with South Korea amid ongoing discussions with the North.

"And so if those requests were gangster-like, they are - the world is a gangster, because there was a unanimous decision at the U.N. Security Council about what needs to be achieved", he added.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier at his residence in Tokyo praised Pompeo. "If it's not true, then we go back to the other way, but I don't think that's going to be necessary". "This really shows the unwavering bond of the Japan-U.S. alliance".

The statement came hours after Pompeo departed after meetings led by Kim Yong Chol, a senior aide to Kim.

"The US attitude and positions at the high-level talks on Friday and Saturday were extremely regrettable", the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, the Yonhap news agency in South Korea reported.

However, Pompeo said the progress achieved thus far did not warrant any concessions.

Even so, the United States envoy on Sunday insisted again that he thought the talks were "in good faith and productive".

Mr Pompeo said there was still a lot of work to do, but he was confident the North Korean leader would stick to a commitment to abandon nuclear weapons he made during a summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore last month.

"Clearly, we see some posturing particularly from the North Korean side using the leverage that they have, especially in the lead-up to Trump's visit to NATO and his big summit with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin in the coming week", said Hilary Mann Leverett, a former White House official.

Ji-won what can you tell us?

Pompeo said he had also pushed North Korea on a promise to destroy a missile engine test site and that the United States would like that to happen "soon".

He said that a meeting between the two sides has been set up on July 12 in Panmunjom along the inter-Korean border to discuss in a day or two the repatriation of USA soldiers' remains left in the DPRK in the 1950s.

"We still cherish our good faith in President Trump", the spokesman said.

And while both sides are still at the very tentative stages of trust-building, he said: "It's going to take time, but eventually we can not just keep on going this way because we will end up going nowhere".

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