Announcing a brief suspension of its high-level talks with North Korea after a week of hard bargaining, the United States said on Thursday night that the two sides had made no progress toward implementing last month's agreement to settle their nuclear dispute.
But the chief American delegate, Robert L. Gallucci, refused to describe the negotiations as deadlocked. He said he would fly to Washington on Friday for consultations and return to Geneva next Wednesday to resume his meetings with North Korea's deputy foreign minister, Kang Sok-ju."I cannot report that we have made substantive progress in terms of resolving any of the important and complicated issues that divide us," he said of the latest round of talks. "But I think there is interest in both sides in pursuing the discussions."
The somber mood of this week's talks nonetheless contrasted with the optimism raised by last month's framework agreement under which North Korea said it would freeze its nuclear program and implicitly renounced the possibility of building nuclear weapons.
In exchange, the United States said it would help provide North Korea with new light water nuclear reactors to replace existing and planned graphite reactors that yield high levels of weapons-grade plutonium. Washington also opened the door to diplomatic relations and new economic and trade links.
Since then, however, Pyongyang has raised new demands. Specifically, it has asked for $2 billion in compensation.