US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Pyongyang on Saturday seemingly optimistic after two days of high-level talks, but without announcing any concrete steps North Korea would take or a timeline towards denuclearization.
He said "We made progress on nearly all the central issues", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert noted on Twitter. "Some places a great deal of progress, other places there's still more work to be done", he continued.
North Korea says high-level talks with a USA delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were "regrettable" and has accused Washington of trying to unilaterally pressure the country into abandoning its nukes.
Pompeo asserted that the United States will again meet with North Korea next week in the demilitarized zone.
The display of small talk between North Korean and USA officials, a rarity given the infrequent contacts between the longtime adversaries, revealed both the tension at the heart of the nuclear negotiations and the increasing familiarity of the two men who have become diplomatic counterparts during Pompeo's three visits to Pyongyang and Kim's visit to New York City in May.
Pompeo talked earlier with Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono.
But this week's visit to the North - Pompeo's third this year - did not see him meet with Kim Jong Un, contrary to initial plans for the trip.
When a reporter asked about North Korea's Saturday comments, Pompeo didn't seem too bothered.
Pompeo said more talks were needed on both.
Kim Yong Chol said that the two had had "very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday" and joked that as a result, Pompeo "might have not slept well last night" at the prestigious Paekhwawon, or 100 Flowers Garden, guest house. "However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable".
Analysts said that North Korea's statement was not unexpected but that there may indeed be a long way to go in U.S.
In addition to demanding that North Korea agree to the complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of its nuclear weapons and missile programmes, Abe has made the return of any abductees still in North Korea or a full disclosure of their fates a condition for providing any major economic assistance.
One hoped-for breakthrough would be the return of the remains of USA troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. However, contrary to South Korean media reports, Nauert said Pompeo did not leave Kim a CD with the Elton John song "Rocket Man" - a nickname Trump has used to refer to Kim.
North Korea apparently didn't get the memo.
Many analysts in the U.S foreign policy community, particularly nuclear disarmament experts, had cautioned that Trump was rushing into the talks with North Korea based on undue optimism against an obdurate country which was primarily seeking status recognition from the U.S and had no intention of denuclearizing unilaterally.
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