North Korea says its resolve to give up its nuclear programs may falter after talks with the US in Pyongyang, contradicting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who lauded progress made on nearly all key issues.
The contrast between Pyongyang and Washington cast a cloud over future negotiations, raising questions over whether the North is committed to abandoning the nuclear programs it has developed for decades and sees as key to its survival.
Pompeo, who had a day and a half of talks in Pyongyang, had sought to hammer out details on how to dismantle North Korea's nuclear programs, such as a timeline to denuclearisation and a plan on declaring its related facilities.
But the result of the negotiations was that "We can't but be very apprehensive," and Pyongyang was "regretful" about the attitude and position presented by the US side, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
The official accused Pompeo's delegation of insisting on unilateral complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation (CVID), which counters the spirit of the unprecedented summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.
"We expected that the US side would bring itself with a constructive proposal," the spokesman said on Saturday, without elaborating.
"But, the US side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearisation just calling for CVID, declaration and verification."
The North Korean spokesman said a "shortcut" to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula was through a step-by-step approach under which both sides took steps at the same time.
"The high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearisation, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the US"
There was no immediate comment on the KCNA statement from the US State Department.
As Pompeo departed Pyongyang, he said he had made progress "on almost all of the central issues" in the talks, though more work remained to be done.
Pompeo said he spent "a good deal of time" discussing a denuclearisation timeline and the declaration of the North's nuclear and missile facilities.
"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, according to a pool report from US reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo did not meet Kim as he had done on his two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from Trump.
A letter from Kim to Trump was also delivered to Pompeo. In the letter, Kim expressed his "expectation and conviction" that the sentiments of good faith between the two leaders would be further consolidated through future dialogue, KCNA said.