Doubting US Seriousness, North Korea Abruptly Ends Talks

It is now North Korea’s turn to abruptly end the negotiations doubting the seriousness of the United States’ intention to find a solution to the Korean impasse.

After a long lull of about eight months the issue has come up for negotiations between North Korea and the US at the initiative of Sweden. But the officials of North Korea ended eight-hour-long negotiations in a huff when they met with the officials of the US at Swedish capital of Stockholm on October 5. The US accepted Sweden’s invitation with a short two-week notice for hosting talks between the US and North Korea. But towards the end of the negotiations, North Korean decision to abruptly call off talks sounded final and that it was not ready for any further talks unless the US would stop “hostilities.” The US has insisted and offered that it is ready for another round of talks within the next two weeks, but North Korea doubted Washington’s seriousness.

The North Korean officials walked away from the negotiations saying that they were disappointed and blamed the US for not having any “new and creative” solutions to offer to end the impasse that would lead to establishing peace in the Korean Peninsula. Releasing a statement at the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm, North Korean negotiator Kim Miyong Gil warned that their offer of deadline of year-end would immediately end if the US sticks to its past attitude. He said: “The fate of the future North Korea-US dialogue will depend on the US attitude and the end of this year is the deadline.”

But, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that the US “previewed a number of new initiatives” that would allow progress over the understanding reached at the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. The North Korean Foreign Ministry, in a statement issued a day after negotiations broke down in Stockholm, said it would not meet with American negotiators again until after the US took “a substantial step to complete and irreversible withdrawal of hostile policy.”

A spokesperson of the North Korean Foreign Ministry said that Washington wanted another meeting, but “we have no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as what happened this time, before the US takes a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy towards Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” He added, “The fate of the US-North Korean dialogue depends on the US attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline.”

Apparently North Korea has not ceased its missile experimentation and in recent days it has been conducting a series of missile tests. Some reports say very recently North Korea has tested a Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile that South Korean officials consider a medium-range missile.

It may be recalled that Trump abruptly walked away from the eagerly-awaited second summit halfway with Kim in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, on February 28, 2019.

Now that the prospect of the Korean Peninsula peace looks dim before the present term of Trump ends, North Korea says that it would wait until the end of the year for Washington to come up with a more flexible proposal. For the year-end to come, only two months and a few days are left to meet, which is the deadline set by North Korea, and Trump is busy handling domestic, and international matters, and also preparing for the poll campaign for which US presidential elections are due in November 2020.

The initial enthusiasm, which Trump had shown till a few months ago, appears to be weakening away because of his domestic issues, his planning for 2020 presidential election campaign, and Kim not able to abide by the commitment that Trump expects. There is also lack of mutual trust between him and Kim. The first summit between them was held with much fanfare in Singapore at the initiative of the US President that ended with a note of optimism despite no concrete plan had been chalked out, and the second summit in Hanoi ended with Kim demanding the US to lift sanctions and withdraw troops stationed on the border of South Korea. Trump, who had seen that Kim had been not taking enough effort to denuclearize the zone but stealthily testing missiles and building up new nuclear facilities while seemingly pulling down a few existing ones, is reluctant to meet the demands of North Korea.

Supported by intelligent sources, Trump is still convinced that Kim is not doing enough for the US to meet his demands.

– Contributed by Mr. J.V. Laskshmana Rao, a former National News Coordinator of Express News Service, New Delhi, and former Chief Editor of US-based India Tribune. He frequently travels between India and the US.

Picture Credits: Reuters /

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