North Korea said it will not meet with the United States for more “sickening negotiations” unless it abandons its “hostile policy” towards the country.
The chief North Korean nuclear negotiator said the talks in Sweden broke down “entirely because the US has not discarded its old stance and attitude” and came to the negotiating table with an “empty hand”.
But the US said the two sides had “good discussions” that it intended to build on with more talks in two weeks.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday accusing the US of trying to mislead the public and “spreading a completely ungrounded story that both sides are open to meet” again.
The statement said the Stockholm talks on Saturday – the first in more than seven months – “made us think they have no political will to improve (North Korea)-US relations and may be abusing the bilateral relations for their own partisan interests” at home.
It said North Korea was not willing to hold “such sickening negotiations” as those in Stockholm until the US took “a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward” the North.
The statement did not say which US policies it was referring to, but North Korea has previously accused the United States of plotting an invasion of the country and maintained that US-led sanctions against the North were stifling its economy.
Kim Myong Gil, the main North Korean negotiator at the Stockholm talks, said that since the first summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June 2018, the US had been threatening his country with fresh unilateral sanctions and military exercises with South Korea.
When it entered talks with the US last year, North Korea said it was willing to deal away its advancing nuclear arsenal in return for outside political and economic benefits.
But many foreign experts doubt whether North Korea would completely abandon a nuclear program that it has built after decades of struggle.
Before the Singapore talks, North Korea had long said it would denuclearise only if the US withdrew its 28,500 troops from South Korea, end military drills with the South and take other steps to guarantee the North’s security.
Saturday’s talks were the first between the sides since the second Trump-Kim summit in Vietnam in February collapsed due to squabbling over how much sanctions relief should be given to North Korea in return for dismantling its main nuclear complex.
The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to restart diplomacy.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the chief North Korean negotiator’s comments following Saturday’s talks did “not reflect the content or the spirit” of the “good discussions” that took place over eight-and-a-half hours.
She said the US delegation “previewed a number of new initiatives that would allow us to make progress in each of the four pillars” of a joint statement issued after Mr Trump and Mr Kim’s first summit in Singapore in June 2018.
Ms Ortagus also said the US accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue talks.
Because the US does not have official diplomatic relations with North Korea, Sweden has often acted as a bridge between Washington and Pyongyang.
Kim Myong Gil, the North Korean negotiator, said the North had proposed a suspension of talks until December.
He said North Korea also made it clear that the two countries could discuss the North’s next denuclearisation steps if the United States “sincerely responds” to previous measures taken by Pyongyang, including the suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests and the closing of its underground nuclear testing site.
North Korea has demanded the United States comes up with mutually acceptable proposals to salvage the nuclear diplomacy by the end of this year.
Kim Myong Gil said whether North Korea would lift its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests was completely up to the United States.
“The fate of the future (North Korea)-US dialogue depends on the US attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry statement said.