There were conflicting reports on Sunday regarding a recent proposal for United States-North Korea peace talks which was allegedly made before North Korea’s recent nuclear test.
The State Department insisted that Washington rejected a North Korean proposal to discuss a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War because it did not address denuclearization on the peninsula, according to Reuters.
But a report earlier in the Wall Street Journal suggested the opposite – that it was the United States that offered the peace treaty and that Pyongyang had been the one to reject it.
The newspaper, citing U.S. officials familiar with the events, said the Obama administration dropped its longstanding condition that Pyongyang take steps to curtail its nuclear arsenal before any peace talks take place, instead calling for North Korea's atomic weapons program to be just one part of the discussion.
Pyongyang declined the proposal, according to The Wall Street Journal, and its January 6 nuclear test ended the diplomatic plans.
State Department spokesman John Kirby later insisted that the opposite was true when asked about the report.
"To be clear, it was the North Koreans who proposed discussing a peace treaty," Kirby said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
"We carefully considered their proposal, and made clear that denuclearization had to be part of any such discussion. The North rejected our response," he stressed. "Our response to the NK proposal was consistent with our longstanding focus on denuclearization."
North Korea said on January 6 it had tested a nuclear device it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, a fact originally disputed by the United States which later changed its mind, citing a further review of the test.
On January 16, noted Reuters, Pyongyang had demanded the conclusion of a peace treaty with the United States and a halt to U.S. military exercises with South Korea to end its nuclear tests.
But U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said then that Pyongyang needed to demonstrate by its actions that it was serious about denuclearization before any dialogues could start.