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08 July 2018, 01:44 | Devin Moran
North Korea calls Pompeo talks "regrettable," accuses U.S. of unilateral denuclearization demands
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised on Sunday U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's conduct at denuclearization talks with North Korean officials who accused America's top diplomat of making "gangster-like" demands.
The DPRK felt deep regret over the attitude of the USA delegation led by Pompeo at the high-level talks held Friday and Saturday with DPRK officials, a spokesman of the country's Foreign Ministry said.
In practical terms, however, Pompeo mentioned only that officials from both sides would meet on July 12 as a working group to discuss the repatriation of the remains of some United States soldiers killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War. "Other places, there's still more work to be done".
As Saturday's meetinggot under way Kim Yong-chol joked that Mr Pompeo may not have slept well during his overnight stay at a guesthouse in Pyongyang.
From left, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha attend a news conference in Tokyo on July 8.
Pompeo said a #great deal of progress' had been made in the talks, including commitmens for new discussions on denuclearisation and the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.
A key aim of Mr Pompeo's two days of talks was to firm up North Korea's commitment to denuclearisation.
"The results of the talks are extremely worrisome", read a North Korean statement attributed to an unnamed official.
Despite Pompeo's positive depiction of the events, signs had emerged that things weren't going as well as hoped.
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.
Officials from the two sides would meet next week in Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas, to discuss the return of the remains of the some 7,000 USA soldiers still listed as missing in action since the 1950-53 Korean War.
"What the U.S.is requesting is the cancerous demands from previous administrations that blocked all dialogue processes", the statement read, in the kind of overheated rhetoric that the Kim regime and Trump administration share a fondness for.
"There will be a verification connected to the complete denuclearization, it's what President Trump and Chairman Kim both agreed to", he added.
Now, as the afterglow of the Trump-Kim tete-a-tete wears off the prospect of any kind of easy North Korean solution is looking - unsurprisingly - like a mirage.
At the same time, North Korea said it still wants to build on the "friendly relationship and trust" that Trump and Kim created during the Singapore gathering. He did not reply when a reporter asked him at the start of that breakfast meeting to respond to North Korea's statement.
Last month, Trump told a crowd of supporters that the remains of 200 service members had "been sent back", but USA military officials later said that was not the case.
That change raised suspicion that the USA was softening its demands for the country, an argument that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert had insisted on Friday wasn't true. North Korea committed at last month's summit to the "immediate repatriation" of remains already identified, but that hasn't happened yet. That appeared to be a reference to Trump's national security adviser John Bolton, a prominent North Korea hawk who has been vilified by Pyongyang in the past. Yet Pompeo himself had earlier said he envisioned that occurring in about two 1/2 years, by the end of Trump's term. She said the two sides had also discussed the return of the remains of USA troops killed during the Korean War.
"What concerns me at this stage is the secretary of state flying all the way from Washington to Pyongyang to try to engage in detailed working-level negotiations as an ongoing approach to negotiating denuclearization", he said.
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