By Min Joo Kim
October 6 at 6:00 AM The Washington Post
SEOUL — North Korea said nuclear talks with the United States have broken down, a description at odds with the Trump administration’s characterization of them as a “good discussion.”
The two sides met in Stockholm on Saturday to resume nuclear negotiations after eight months of stalemate over denuclearization and sanctions.
The top North Korean nuclear envoy, Kim Myong Gil, said the working-level talks had broken off “entirely due to the United States’ failure to abandon its outdated viewpoint and attitude.”
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus disputed those comments, saying they did not reflect “the content or spirit of today’s 8½ -hour discussion.”
She said Washington brought “creative ideas” and “a number of new initiatives” to the talks, while North Korea blamed the Americans for coming “empty-handed.”
Saturday’s talks were the first since President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February. Trump’s personal diplomatic overtures to Kim, including an informal meeting at the Korean Peninsula’s demilitarized zone in June, were put to a test as Pyongyang resumed weapons tests.
North Korea tested a new submarine-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday, days before the nuclear talks with Washington were set to resume.
Kim Myong Gil said that whether Pyongyang breaks its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and missile testing “entirely depends on the stance of the United States.”
The State Department said Washington is willing to resume discussions with Pyongyang in two weeks, but Pyongyang has not expressed such an intention.
Van Jackson, a former Pentagon official and a lecturer at New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington, said Trump’s personal diplomacy with Kim has undermined the nuclear negotiations.
“From North Korea’s perspective, there is nothing to be gained from working-level talks as long as Trump is a doormat,” Jackson said.
He said the North Koreans do not intend to engage in sincere negotiations on the working level when they see a bigger gain from directly engaging with Trump.
Last month, Trump said that another summit meeting with the North Korean leader “could happen soon.”
“Right now, people would like to see that happen. I want to know what’s going to be coming out of it,” he said on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.