DPRK rules out further talks unless U.S. ends hostilities
Updated 20:54, 06-Oct-2019

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Sunday it has "no desire" to continue nuclear talks unless the United States takes steps to end hostilities, a day after negotiations in Sweden broke down.

Pyongyang has "no desire to hold such nauseating negotiations such as this one unless the U.S. takes practical measures to irreversibly withdraw its hostile policy," a spokesman for the DPRK's Foreign Ministry said. 

"The fate of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue is in Washington's hands and the deadline is until the end of this year," he said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. 

Pyongyang blamed Washington for "abusing" the talks for domestic politics in the U.S., adding that it is "groundless" to say that the two sides will meet again in a few weeks. The U.S. State Department has said it had accepted Sweden's invitation to return for more discussions with Pyongyang in two weeks.

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Nevertheless, Yang Xiyu, senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told CGTN that despite sharp differences between the U.S. and the DPRK, their talks have not collapsed because both sides believe dialogue is the only way to revolve their differences.


Conflicting assessments of U.S.-DPRK talks

The top DPRK negotiator said late on Saturday that working-level nuclear talks in Sweden between officials from Pyongyang and Washington had broken off, but Washington said they had "good discussions."

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"The negotiations have not fulfilled our expectations and finally broke up... without any outcome. (It) is totally due to the fact that the U.S. would not give up their old... attitude," the DPRK's leading negotiator Kim Myong Gil told reporters in Stockholm. 

"The U.S. raised expectations and offered suggestions like flexible approach, new methods and creative solutions but they have disappointed us greatly, and dampened our enthusiasm for negotiations by bringing nothing to the negotiation table," Kim said. 

He added that the DPRK stood "at the crossroads of dialogue or confrontation."

Kim's U.S. counterpart was Stephen Biegun, Trump's special envoy. 

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that "the early comments from the DPRK delegation do not reflect the content or the spirit of today's eight-and-a-half-hour discussion." 

"The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts," she said. 

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

A motorcade carrying the DPRK delegation heads for Villa Elfvik on the island of Lidingo off Stockholm, Sweden, October 5, 2019. /Reuters Photo

A motorcade carrying the DPRK delegation heads for Villa Elfvik on the island of Lidingo off Stockholm, Sweden, October 5, 2019. /Reuters Photo

The meeting at an isolated conference center on the outskirts of Stockholm was the first formal working-level discussion since U.S. President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un met in June and agreed to restart negotiations that stalled after a failed summit in Vietnam in February.

Similar-level talks on the DPRK's nuclear disarmament were held in Stockholm in March 2018 and then in January this year.

An official at the Republic of Korea's (ROK) presidential office said the talks in Sweden were nevertheless the beginning of negotiations, and that the ROK hoped the U.S. and the DPRK could continue the momentum of dialogue.

(With input from AFP, Reuters)