North Korea said on Thursday that it had turned down a US offer for fresh talks and said that it was not interested in more talks merely aimed at “appeasing us” ahead of a year-end deadline Pyongyang has set for Washington to show more flexibility in negotiations.
North Korean negotiator Kim Myong Gil said in a statement, “I cannot understand why he (US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Beigun) spreads the so-called idea of North Korea-US relations through the third party, not thinking of candidly making direct contact with me, his dialogue partner”.
Kim further said that North Korea has no interest in talks if they are aimed at buying time without discussing solutions.
The negotiations have faltered since a February summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Vietnam collapsed after the US side rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
Earlier this month, North Korea had carried out a “successful” new test of its “super-larger multiple rocket launcher” system, the latest in a series of provocations by Pyongyang.
Kim and US President Donald Trump adopted a vaguely-worded statement on the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” at their first summit in Singapore in June last year, but little progress has since been made.
Trump and Kim then agreed to restart working-level talks during a brief meeting at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula in June.
Early in October, the Stockholm meeting was held to try to break the stalled talks since the failed February summit in Hanoi, where Washington considered Pyonyang’s offer regarding the dismantling of its nuclear assets insufficient and refused to lift the sanctions on the regime.
In Sweden, the meeting closed with Pyongyang accusing Washington of not offering anything new and insisted that the White House has until the end of the year to modify its negotiating strategy.
Pyongyang has decried the US-South Korea exercises as hostile, even in their current reduced form.
On Wednesday, it threatened to retaliate if the allies go ahead with scheduled drills.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute think-tank, said the North Korean statement appeared to be aimed at justifying future military actions.
(With inputs from agency)