UPDATE : 2019.10.13 SUN 11:28
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N. Korea rules out talks with U.S. until withdrawal of hostile policy

North Korea on Sunday ruled out any further talks with the United States until Washington takes "a substantial step" to withdraw what it claims is hostile policy against Pyongyang.

North Korea also accused the U.S. of abusing the talks for domestic political purposes and of spreading a groundless story that the two sides are open to meeting again after two weeks.

"We have no intention to hold such sickening negotiations as what happened this time before the U.S. takes a substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal of the hostile policy toward" North Korea, an unidentified spokesperson of the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in an English-language statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea has repeatedly called on the United States to scrap what it calls its hostile policy toward the communist country. Washington denies having such a policy.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that at the end of the meeting, the U.S. proposed accepting Sweden's invitation to return to Stockholm in two weeks time to continue discussions. The U.S. accepted that invitation, she said.

When asked if he will return to Stockholm in two weeks time, North Korea's top nuclear negotiator Kim Myong-gil told reporters to ask that question to the U.S. as he left the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm.

Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said it is unlikely that Kim went to Sweden authorized to compromise on anything.

"Most likely, his orders were to learn about any new U.S. proposals, then express dissatisfaction to buy time and build pressure," he said.

The North Korean spokesman said the fate of the future bilateral talks "depends on the U.S. attitude, and the end of this year is its deadline."

The ultimatum came after North Korea and the U.S. failed to work out differences in their working-level talks in Stockholm -- the first since the collapse of February's second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim, the North Korean top nuclear negotiator, told reporters after meeting with his U.S. counterpart Stephen Biegun that the talks broke down due to the failure of the U.S. to come up with a new proposal.

Kim said it will be up to the U.S. to correct its course and keep the dialogue alive or "forever close the door to dialogue."

He also said it will depend entirely on the U.S. on whether Pyongyang continues its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, or "revives" them.

In contrast, the U.S. offered a more measured response.

Ortagus said the early comments from the North Korean delegation do not reflect the content or the spirit of 8 1/2 hour discussion.

She said the U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its North Korean counterparts.

Pyongyang and Washington have wrangled over how much the North should denuclearize before it receives sanctions relief and security guarantees from the U.S. That gap caused the second summit in Vietnam to end without a deal.

North Korea resumed its testing of short-range ballistic missiles in recent months, although it has refrained from conducting nuclear weapons or long-range missile tests since beginning diplomacy with the U.S. early last year.

On Wednesday, North Korea tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile in a move apparently aimed at increasing its leverage in talks with the U.S.

Along with its ICBMs, the North's SLBM program is considered one of the biggest threats to the U.S. and its allies, as it could extend the range of the North's nuclear missiles. SLBMs are also hard to detect before they emerge from water. (Yonhap)

Lee Kyung-sik  edt@koreapost.com

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