North Korea warns USA attitude is 'highly REGRETTABLE' as tensions soar

Mike Pompeo departs North Korea

The US and North Korea sharply diverged after two days of talks, with Pyongyang terming the US position on denuclearisation during meetings with Mike Pompeo "extremely regrettable", hours after the secretary of state cited progress on central issues.

Pompeo was speaking after emerging from more than eight hours of talks over two days with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand man Kim Yong Chol in a Pyongyang diplomatic compound.

The North's Foreign Ministry said the "extremely regrettable" USA attitude during the meeting violated the spirit of the agreement reached between Mr. Kim and President Donald Trump last month at their historic summit in Singapore.

The North's statement, which came hours after Pompeo wrapped up the Pyongyang talks, accused the USA of trying to pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons.

"We had expected that the USA side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders' summit ... we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures".

In a statement issued by an unnamed foreign ministry spokesman and carried by the Korean Central News Agency, the North lashed out at the United States for seeking unilateral and forced denuclearization from Pyongyang.

Pompeo could point to no concrete achievement from the talks, aside from an agreement for the two sides to meet again around July 12 in Panmunjom, the border village between the two Koreas, to discuss returning the remains of U.S. soldiers from the 1950-1953 Korean War.

And he said progress had been made towards agreeing "the modalities" of North Korea's destruction of a missile facility.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has begun his first trip to Pyongyang since President Donald Trump's summit with leader Kim Jong Un last month with a vow to nail down the specifics of the commitments Kim made on denuclearization.

The official also mentioned that leader Kim Jong-un's letter for Trump was given to Pompeo, saying that he voiced confidence that the trust and friendship built through the Singapore meeting will deepen through talks that the two countries will have going forward.

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"We did have very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday", Kim said, through a translator.

Sarah Clarke, reporting from South Korea's capital, Seoul, said that North Korea appeared to be unhappy following the high-level talks.

The statement came shortly after Pompeo said he had made progress "on nearly all of the central issues" in the talks, including on setting a timeline for its denuclearisation, though more work remained to be done.

Kim asked Pompeo if had slept well, to which Pompeo said he had.

As they began their talks on Saturday, Kim Yong Chol alluded to the fact that Pompeo and his delegation had stayed overnight in Pyongyang. Before this trip, Pompeo said he was hoping to "fill in" some of the details on what North Korea committed to at the summit. "So thinking about those discussions you might have not slept well last night".

Kim Jong-un has promised to work towards denuclearisation, but details on how this will be achieved remain thin.

"I expect that the DPRK is ready to do the same", Pompeo said.

The Trump administration has said it would take between 1 and 2 1/2 years to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program.

Pompeo and Kim met for almost three hours Friday and then had dinner amid growing skepticism over how serious Kim Jong Un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following his June 12 summit with Trump into concrete action. The officials reportedly discussed a range of issues, including the return of the remains of U.S. troops killed during the Korean War.

As he departed Pyongyang, Pompeo said he spent "a good deal of time" discussing a denuclearisation timeline and the declaration of North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities. North Korea committed at last month's summit to the "immediate repatriation" of remains already identified, but that hasn't happened yet.

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