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North Korea blames US for failing to negotiate over its nuclear program

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — North Korea has blamed the United States for failing to negotiate over its nuclear program, which resumed Saturday in Stockholm after months of deadlock, despite a further escalation of Pyongyang’s missile tests.

The negotiations marked the first attempt to revive dialogue between the two countries since the failure of the Hanoi summit in February between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korean envoy Kim Myung-gill and Stephen Pigeon, the US president’s special envoy in Stockholm, met with Swedish special envoy Kent Harstead, who this summer freed Australian student Alec Sigley after being briefly detained by Pyongyang.

The working sessions were held in a fortified area on one of the Stockholm islands, hundreds of meters from the North Korean embassy.

Kim Myung-jil declared the talks a failure.

“The negotiations did not satisfy our expectations and ultimately failed,” he told reporters at his country’s embassy in the Swedish capital. “The failure of negotiations that have not made any progress is caused solely by the United States, which has not retreated from its usual position.”

“The United States had put forward proposals reflecting a flexible approach, new approaches and creative solutions. But they were very disappointed and eliminated our enthusiasm for discussion because they offered nothing at the negotiating table.”

Kim Myung-gil, in Beijing on his way to the Swedish capital, said he was “optimistic” about the new talks.

North Korea missile tests

Washington was eagerly awaiting the resumption of the dialogue, which was virtually halted after the Hanoi meeting.

The signal came Tuesday when North Korean diplomats announced that negotiations would resume this weekend, which was later confirmed by the United States.

But after 24 hours of such positive weather, North Korea announced that it had tested a sea-to-surface ballistic missile after intensifying in recent months the launch of short-range missiles.

“The new ballistic missile was launched in a vertical position” from the waters off Wansan Bay, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported Thursday. It identified the weapon as a “Bokgokseong-3.” “He authorized a new stage in containing the threat from outside powers,” she said.

The Pentagon said Thursday the missile appeared to have been launched from a “naval platform” rather than a submarine.

The most provocative step

The move appeared the most provocative since relations with the United States saw a breakthrough in 2018. Washington reiterated on Thursday that the tests were “provocative in vain” and “do not prepare the ground for diplomacy”, calling on North Korea to end it.

Nevertheless, Trump decided to respond positively to the North Koreans seeking diplomatic success at a time when he is facing a scandal in Washington related to a telephone conversation with the Ukrainian president.

“They want to talk and we will talk soon with them,” he said.

Diplomats said the UN Security Council was expected to hold closed talks early next week to discuss the latest missile test.

The meeting is being held at the request of Britain, France and Germany, as European powers press the world body to keep up the pressure on Pyongyang, which is under heavy sanctions by the United States and the United Nations over its military program.

North Korea is barred from testing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions.

The United Nations imposed three packages of sanctions adopted in 2017 in an effort to force it to abandon its nuclear and ballistic weapons programs. The sanctions limit North Korea’s oil imports and impose a ban on exports of coal, fish and fabrics.

Since the US-North Korea talks began, China and Russia have repeatedly called on the United Nations to gradually lift sanctions to make way for Pyongyang to disarm, something Washington has rejected.

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