Official: May be 'weeks and months' before North Korea responds on talks

U.S. negotiator Stephen Bosworth delivers a statement outside of the U.S. embassy on Tuesday in Geneva.

Story highlights

  • U.S. ambassador: "We are moving in a positive direction"
  • State Department spokeswoman: "Important issues do remain"
  • "We have agreed that we will be in touch at an appropriate moment"
A senior State Department official is tempering expectations on how quickly North Korea could respond to just-concluded discussions with the United States in Geneva, Switzerland.
"North Korea's team obviously has to go home now and has to consult with their leadership," the official said Tuesday.
"We all know how the North Korean system works. We do think it's going to be not a matter of days or weeks but probably a matter of weeks and months before we're going to be able to really know where we're going next on this. We expect it will take some time for the North Koreans to digest what we talked about in Geneva."
U.S. officials described as "positive" Monday's meeting with a North Korean delegation in an effort to restart talks with the reclusive nation over ending Pyongyang's nuclear program.
"We are moving in a positive direction," U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth said in Geneva after the meeting. "We have narrowed some differences, but we still have differences that we have to resolve."
"As you know, our goal is to find a solid foundation on which to launch a resumption of discussions both bilateral and multilateral and we will continue to work hard to bring that about," Bosworth said.
At a meeting between the two countries in July, Washington laid out a list of things it was looking for from Pyongyang to demonstrate its seriousness about abandoning its nuclear ambitions, a State Department official told reporters last week.
One of the things the United States was seeking is North Korean engagement with South Korea, the official said, adding that a recent "constructive meeting" between the two countries helped get the parties to this point.
There is concern that if the United States or South Korea do not engage with North Korea, it could lead to miscalculation or provocations on the part of North Korea, the official said.
The meeting in Geneva gave the United States an opportunity to see how the North Koreans absorbed what the Americans laid out in July, and what North Korea's intentions are, the official said.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the Geneva meeting "constructive."
"There was some narrowing of differences, but important issues do remain," she said during a briefing at the State Department.
"We now think that we've both got to go back to our capitals; we've got to evaluate what we've heard. And we have agreed that we will be in touch at an appropriate moment," Nuland said.