- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2018

North Korea balked Saturday at the latest round of denuclearization talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling the negotiations “extremely troubling” and warning the deal could collapse.

Nevertheless, Mr. Pompeo left Pyongyang saying the two sides had made progress.

A spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry complained that the U.S. wanted complete nuclear disarmament without offering anything in return, according to a statement release through the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

“We had anticipated the U.S. side would come with a constructive idea, thinking we would take something in return,” said the statement. “But through the high-level talks, the trust between the DPRK and the United States is facing a dangerous situation where our resolve for denuclearization, which has been firm and steadfast, may falter.”

The North pushed for a phased approach with a incremental dismantling of its nuclear program accompanied by the U.S. gradually easing sanctions and providing other incentives.

The foreign ministry spokesman said the phased timeline was the “fastest way” to a getting rid of the nukes.

Mr. Pompeo conducted the talks Friday as a follow-up to the June 12 summit in Singapore between President Trump and North Koran leaders Kim Jong-un. At the summit, Mr. Kim committed to complete denuclearization in return for U.S. security guarantees.

Mr. Pompeo entered the talks determined to put some meat on the bone of the Singapore agreement, such as getting a full inventory of Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal and a process for verifying the dismantling.

As Mr. Pompeo departed Pyongyang, he told reporter that the talks achieved progress “on almost all of the central issues” in the talks, including on setting a timeline for its denuclearisation, though more work remained to be done.

Doubts surfaced soon after the summit with satellite images showing continued work on North Korea’s nuclear facilities and missile factories.

Mr. Pompeo said he spent “a good deal of time” discussing a denuclearisation timeline and the declaration of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities.

“I think we made progress in every element of our discussions,” he said, according to a pool report from U.S. reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.

“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” he said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Mr. Pompeo did not meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he had done on his two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from U.S. President Donald Trump.

A letter from Kim to Trump was also delivered to Mr. Pompeo through Kim Yong Chol, a top North Korean party official and former spy agency chief, who with Mr. Pompeo played a key role in arranging the unprecedented summit in Singapore.

 • This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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