North Korea's top nuclear negotiator says working-level nuclear talks Saturday with the U.S. in Stockholm ended shortly after they began.
"The negotiations have not fulfilled our expectation and finally broke off," Kim Myong Gil said outside Pyongyang's embassy in Stockholm.
However, hours later, U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement, "The early comments from the DPRK delegation do not reflect the content or the spirit of today's 8-and-a-half-hour discussion. The U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts."
The statement said discussions focused on the four pillars discussed in the joint statement agreed to in Singapore by the U.S. and North Korea, which included efforts for peace, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and the recovery of missing U.S. service members' remains.
"At the conclusion of our discussions, the United States proposed to accept the invitation of our Swedish hosts to return to Stockholm to meet again in two weeks time,in order to continue discussions on all of the topics. The United States delegation has accepted this invitation," Ortagus said.
Saturday's abbreviated talks were the first formal negotiations since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed in June to restart them after they collapsed in February at a summit in Vietnam.
The February talks broke down over how to pace sanctions relief with steps to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Greece on Saturday he was "hopeful" progress would be made and that U.S. negotiators arrived in Stockholm "with a set of ideas."
Entering Saturday's talks, it was not clear if either side had softened their their respective negotiating stances, although recent developments suggested an increased willingness to work toward a deal.
Late last month, Trump said a "new method" to the nuclear talks would be "very good," echoing similar language North Korean officials have used for months.
North Korea repeatedly had said it is not willing to unilaterally surrender its nuclear weapons. Pyongyang, instead, prefers a phased approach in which the U.S. takes simultaneous steps to relieve sanctions and provide security guarantees.
Until recently, most Trump White House officials insisted they were not interested in a phased approach, and that North Korea must agree to completely abandon its nuclear weapons before receiving sanctions relief.
Saturday's talks came days after North Korea said it test-fired a new ballistic missile developed for a submarine launch.