The long-awaited resumption of stalled nuclear talks with North Korea had a difficult start, with Pyongyang saying the talks had failed within hours, while US officials claimed there were "good discussions" and expressed hope for another round later this month. .
The State Department quickly backed down on Saturday night with a North Korean statement that labor-level negotiations in Sweden "failed" because the US delegation appeared "empty-handed".
"The initial comments from the DPRK delegation do not reflect the content or spirit of today's eight and a half hour discussion," the State Department said in a statement. "The US brought creative ideas and had good discussions with their DPRK colleagues."
"The US delegation has envisioned a number of new initiatives," the statement said, stating that the goal was to "make progress" on the basic agreement reached in Singapore last year between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The State Department statement came after North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Myong-gil offered an entirely different view during a Saturday appearance in front of the North Korean embassy outside Stockholm, after holding talks with his American counterpart, US special envoy to North Korea. Stephen Biegun.
“The negotiation did not live up to our expectations and failed. I'm very unhappy, ”Kim said, according to a report on his comments from South Korea's Yonhap News Agency." It's entirely because the US has not ruled out its old stance and attitude that the negotiation this time failed to produce results. "
Saturday's negotiations in Sweden marked the first time the two sides had engaged in in-depth work-level negotiations since talks were interrupted in February during a second summit Trump had with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Negotiations in Hanoi have collapsed with Kim's demand that the US deliver broad relief from sanctions in exchange for only a partial decommissioning of its nuclear arsenal. The position of the North Korean leader at the time was widely seen as a response to an apparent all-or-nothing offer by the American side in Hanoi.
Analysts said US officials would likely take a "step-by-step" approach to this weekend's work-level negotiations in Sweden and see what the North Korean side brought to the table in response.
But Northern negotiator Kim Myong-gil said on Saturday the talks "did not meet Pyongyang's expectations and failed."
"I'm very displeased," he said. "It is entirely because the US has not ruled out its old stance and attitude that the negotiation this time failed to produce results."
US officials were frustrated with the remark.
"The United States and North Korea will not exceed the legacy of 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula over a single Saturday," the State Department said in a statement. “These are major issues and require strong commitment from both countries. The United States has this commitment. "
The statement also said the US side indicated at the end of Saturday's talks that it planned to hold another round in Stockholm in two weeks.
It was unclear on Saturday night if the North Korean side plans to appear.