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(LEAD) N.K.'s top nuke negotiator says it's up to U.S. to keep talks alive

North Korea 10:22 October 07, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS details, quotes, background throughout)

BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top nuclear negotiator said Monday that it is up to the United States as to whether the two countries will hold additional denuclearization talks after the first negotiations between the two sides in seven months broke off.

Kim Myong-gil made the remarks in Beijing on his way back home after holding working-level denuclearization talks with his U.S. counterpart, Stephen Biegun, in Sweden on Saturday, warning that a "terrible" incident could happen if the negotiations don't go well.

"It's up to the U.S. whether to hold talks later on," Kim told reporters. "Ask the U.S. whether to continue talks ... If the U.S. is not well prepared, who knows what terrible incident could happen. Let's wait and see."

Asked if the two sides could sit down again "in two weeks" as suggested by the U.S. in the wake of the Stockholm meeting, Kim voiced skepticism, saying that Washington has failed to come up with a new proposal and that he does not believe it will prepare one in such a short period of time.

Following Saturday's talks, Kim told reporters that the talks broke down due to the failure of the U.S. to come up with a new proposal. Washington said the two sides had "good" discussions and that it had accepted Sweden's invitation to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue negotiations with the North.

Saturday's talks marked the resumption of nuclear negotiations that had been stalled since the no-deal summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump in February. The summit collapsed as they failed to meet halfway over how to match Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's sanctions relief.

The North has since demanded the U.S. come up with a proposal acceptable to Pyongyang, which appears to include sanctions relief and security assurances. Washington has remained firm that major concessions should wait until Pyongyang takes concrete denuclearization steps.

On Sunday night, an unnamed spokesman of the North's foreign ministry issued a statement, saying that Pyongyang does not have any willingness to talk with the U.S. again until Washington takes "practical measures for complete and irreversible withdrawal of hostile policy against" it.

The spokesperson also urged the U.S. to come up with a new calculation method before the end of this year, a deadline that North Korean leader Kim imposed in his speech in April.

Kim Myong-gil (R), North Korea's top nuclear negotiator, arrives in Beijing en route to Pyongyang on Oct. 7, 2019, after working-level talks with U.S. officials in Stockholm on Oct. 5. Kim said the talks broke down as the U.S. failed to come up with a new proposal and that it's up to Washington whether they hold more talks down the road. (Yonhap)


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