North Korea Calls Talks 'Regrettable' After U.S. Says Progress Was Made

The two sides offered mixed messages on North Korean denuclearization.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on July 7, 2018.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on July 7, 2018.

North Korea called denuclearization talks with the U.S. “regrettable” on Saturday, hours after U.S. delegation head Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters progress had been made on key issues.

The Associated Press reported that a statement by the country’s official KCNA news agency accuses the U.S. of betraying the spirit of the historic June 12 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump. Americans, the North said, pushed a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization” over the two days of talks in Pyongyang, The New York Times reported.

The isolated nation said it might now waver in its “firm, steadfast” resolution to give up its nuclear program.

Pompeo had previously offered a more optimistic view of the talks, which were held with top North Korean party official and former spy chief Kim Yong Chol. 

“These are complicated issues, but we made progress on almost all of the central issues,” Pompeo said before boarding a plane to depart North Korea, according to a pool report. “Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done.”

The U.S. envoy did not meet with North Korea’s leader during this round of talks, but the U.S. State Department said he arrived bearing a letter from Trump addressed to Kim Jong Un.

The two sides touched on methods of destroying a missile engine testing facility, as well as a general denuclearization timeline and the repatriation of American remains from the Korean War, Reuters reported. 

For the U.S., the path to denuclearization would require North Korea to expose and dismantle its weapons sites, then allow outside inspectors to confirm that those actions had indeed taken place. Yet many observers are skeptical of the country’s commitment to dismantling its nuclear program. Multiple reports indicated that North Korea has actually increased its production of nuclear materials and made attempts to conceal such weaponry in recent weeks.

Pompeo said North Korean leadership remained “equally committed” to the goal of denuclearization discussed with Trump during last month’s historic summit in Singapore.

He noted, however, that “there are things that I have to clarify,” Reuters reported. Kim responded that “there are things that I have to clarify as well.”

The American envoy stopped in Tokyo on Saturday before journeying home.