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(LEAD) (US-NK summit) U.S., N. Korea differ on why summit collapsed, vow more talks

North Korea 13:55 March 01, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with Pompeo's remarks, S. Korean president's speech, other details; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Chi-dong and Lee Haye-ah

HANOI, March 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea and the United States on Friday provided contradictory accounts of what happened during their no-deal Hanoi summit but reaffirmed a commitment to keeping the denuclearization talks alive.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the two-day negotiations between President Donald Trump and his counterpart, Kim Jong-un, collapsed due to Kim's "unacceptable" call for full sanctions relief.

"You have to remember that these sanctions aren't American sanctions. These are U.N. Security Council resolutions passed by every country, voted affirmatively on by every country on the Security Council, so these are global demands for the denuclearization of North Korea," he stressed, speaking to reporters on a visit to the Philippines just after a Hanoi trip.

This AP photo shows President Donald Trump (L) speaking to reporters, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at a Hanoi hotel on Feb. 28, 2019. (Yonhap)

Trump earlier said Kim had demanded the lifting of sanctions against his regime "in their entirety" while offering to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear complex. He said it was the reason why he walked away from their first summit in eight months.

To the surprise of North Koreans, he added, the U.S. has information on other nuclear activities under way in the secretive nation, including a "uranium enrichment" program.

A senior U.S. official told reporters separately on the condition of anonymity, "What the North Koreans proposed to us was closing down a portion of the Yongbyon complex."

North Korea, however, disputed the U.S. account of Kim's offers.

"What we proposed was not the removal of all sanctions but a partial removal," Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said at a midnight press conference here.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho speaks to reporters in Hanoi on March 1, 2019, on this week's unsuccessful summit between his country and the United States. (Yonhap)

Ri said his country offered to "permanently" dismantle all plutonium and uranium processing facilities at Yongbyon under the monitoring of U.S. experts if sanctions against his regime were partially removed.

That represents Pyongyang's highest-level denuclearization offer at the moment, given the current level of mutual confidence, he added.

Among a total of 11 U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions, Ri said, Pyongyang wants only five, adopted between 2016-2017, to be removed first as they hamper the livelihoods of the people.

It's unclear whether either side is telling a lie or it's just a matter of differences in the interpretation and understanding of Kim's proposals.

A silver lining is that both Pyongyang and Washington have refrained from using acrimonious words against each other.

They voiced hope and will for additional negotiations. The two sides plan to hold working-level discussions in the weeks or months ahead, according to Pompeo who said he's still optimistic about dialogue with Pyongyang.

Kim and Trump "agreed to keep in close touch with each other for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the epochal development of the DPRK-U.S. relations in the future, too, and continue productive dialogues for settling the issues discussed at the Hanoi summit," Pyongyang's state news agency, the KCNA, reported, referring to the North by its official name.

The White House said in a post-summit statement that, "No agreement was reached at this time, but their respective teams look forward to meeting in the future."

It added, "The two leaders discussed various ways to advance denuclearization and economic-driven concepts."

In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in highlighted some positive aspects of the Hanoi summit.

"Importantly, they even discussed the issue of installing liaison offices, an important step toward the normalization of bilateral ties," he said in a March 1 Independence Movement anniversary speech. "I have high regard for President Trump, who has expressed his commitment to continuing talks and optimistic views."

Trump also said the Hanoi talks were not without progress, citing Kim's verbal promise to continue the suspension of nuclear and missile testing.

This AFP photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump seated together at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel on Feb. 28, 2019. (Yonhap)


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