US, N.KOREA PEACE PROCESS HITS A SNAG | Daily News

US, N.KOREA PEACE PROCESS HITS A SNAG

N. Korea rejects call for unilateral disarmament
Pompeo says sanctions to stay
(L-R) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha attend a press conference at Iikura Guest House in Tokyo yesterday. - AFP
(L-R) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha attend a press conference at Iikura Guest House in Tokyo yesterday. - AFP

JAPAN: The peace process between the United States and North Korea was in crisis Sunday after Pyongyang angrily rejected Washington’s “gangster-like” demand for rapid nuclear disarmament, despite two days of intense talks. Speaking privately, US officials suggested the harshly-worded North Korean statement was a negotiating tactic. But after two days of theatrical amity in Pyongyang it appeared to mark a return to the North’s traditional hardline position.

The North’s Foreign Ministry took exception to Pompeo’s effort to secure concrete commitments to back leader Kim Jong Un’s promise, made at a summit last month with US President Donald Trump, to work towards the “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

And it did so in stark terms, according to a statement relayed by the KCNA state news agency.

“The US is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset,” the statement said, referring to North Korea by its official initials.

Pyongyang noted that it had already destroyed a nuclear test site -- a concession that Trump haspublicly hailed as a victory for peace -- and lamented that Pompeo had proved unwilling to match this with US concessions.

It dismissed Trump’s unilateral order to suspend joint US and South Korean war games as a cosmetic and “highly reversible” concession and criticised US negotiators who “never mentioned” the subject of bringing the 1953 Korean War to a formal end with a peace treaty.

“We thought that the US side would come with a constructive proposal... But this expectation and hope of ours was so naive as to be gullible,” KCNA said. Last month, Kim agreed to “work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” in return for security guarantees and an end to a dangerous stand-off with US forces.

Trump hailed this as a successful resolution of the crisis. But the short joint statement was not a detailed roadmap to disarmament and it fell to Pompeo to follow up and put meat on the bones of the sparse commitment.Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday shrugged off North Korean accusations of “gangster-like” behaviour and said sanctions on Pyongyang would only be lifted with “final” denuclearisation.

Speaking in Tokyo after two days of intense discussions in Pyongyang, Pompeo insisted the talks were making progress and were being conducted in “good faith.”

In stark contrast, Pyongyang’s take was overwhelmingly negative, with the North warning that the future of the peace process was being jeopardised by overbearing US demands for its unilateral nuclear disarmament.

Speaking privately, US officials suggested the harshly-worded North Korean reaction was a negotiating tactic. But after two days of theatrical amity in Pyongyang it illustrated the gulf that remains between the two sides.

In Tokyo, Pompeo briefed his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on the talks, and sought to reassure them that the dialogue with North Korea would continue.

His trip to Pyongyang had been aimed at fleshing out denuclearisation commitments made during last month’s historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. - AFP


 

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