In a sharp signal that denuclearization negotiations with North Korea will be drawn out and difficult, Pyongyang on Saturday lambasted the U.S. stance as regrettable, gangster-like and cancerous, directly contradicting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s rosy assessment that his two days of talks had been “productive.”
A harsh statement from an unnamed spokesman for the Foreign Ministry was carried on the state-run Korea Central News Agency just hours after Pompeo left Pyongyang on Saturday and told reporters that significant progress had been made “in every element” of what he characterized as “good-faith negotiations.” Pyongyang crushed that appraisal, saying the United States had betrayed the spirit of the June 12 Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” the statement said. “The issues the U.S. side insisted on during the talks were the same cancerous ones that the past U.S. administrations had insisted on,” it added.
Though North Korea still has faith in Trump, the statement said, it warned that the U.S. approach had brought the two countries to a “dangerous” stage that could “rattle our willingness for denuclearization.”
It was unclear whether the North Korean statement represented potential doom for meaningful negotiations, as some analysts believed, or was just Pyongyang’s standard negotiating style, as others asserted. It exposed the fragility of discussions at the center of Trump’s foreign policy and raised questions about Pyongyang’s intentions.
Pompeo told reporters Saturday that the two countries would soon hold working-level talks on the destruction of Pyongyang’s testing facility for missile engines. He also said Pentagon officials will meet with their North Korean counterparts on or around July 12 at the demilitarized zone between the Koreas to discuss the return of the remains of U.S. military personnel who died during the Korean War.
(c) 2018 The Washington Post