North Korea says it is disappointed with the way the U.S. has conducted itself in bilateral discussions, saying that the progress made at last month’s historic summit in Singapore is in danger of being eroded.
North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un had been hopeful that the “good faith” established between himself and U.S. President Donald Trump would hold talks in good stead, but the U.S. had instead insisted on a “unilateral and gangster-like demand” for denuclearization, according to a translated version of the statement published by KCNA Watch, a website that compiles North Korean state media reports.
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The statement claimed the two countries’ gestures of goodwill since the summit were lopsided in their significance, comparing North Korea’s “irreversible step” of dismantling its nuclear test site with the American move to suspend military exercises, “which can be resumed any time at any moment.”
“We thought that the U.S. side would come with a constructive proposal which accords with the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks. But expectation and hope of ours were so naive as to be foolish,” read the statement.
The U.S. is “fatally mistaken” if it thinks North Korea can be pressured into accepting its demands, the statement continued, adding that a breakdown in the North Korean-U.S. relationship would mean “there is no guarantee that this will not result in yet another tragedy.”
However, the statement also appeared to separate North Korea’s annoyance with the U.S. from its relationship with Trump himself.
“We still cherish our good faith in President Trump. The U.S. should make a serious consideration of whether the toleration of the headwind against the wills of the two top leaders would meet the aspirations and expectations of the world people as well as the interests of its country,” the statement concluded.
The North Korean statement contradicted remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said just hours after departing North Korea that the two countries had made progress on several key issues.
“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” said Pompeo, according to a pool report from U.S. reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.
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Some U.S. experts said the disputes highlight the risk of Trump granting premature concessions to North Korea.
“The North Koreans are in the game to get, not to give,” said Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia until last year.
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Abraham Denmark, a senior defense official for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, said: “This is a rejection of U.S. demands for unilateral denuclearisation by North Korea, and a clear message that the U.S. will need to give up more to make progress.”
— With files from Reuters