By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- The chief nuclear negotiators of South Korea, the United States and Japan met in Washington Tuesday and reaffirmed the importance of working together to achieve complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. State Department said.
Lee Do-hoon, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, held bilateral and trilateral talks with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Stephen Biegun and Shigeki Takizaki -- to discuss last weekend's working-level denuclearization negotiations between North Korea and the U.S. in Sweden.
It was the first time the two sides met for formal negotiations following the collapse of February's second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But the North walked out of the talks, blaming the U.S. for failing to come up with a new proposal.
At their meetings Tuesday, the three sides "reaffirmed the importance of continued close U.S.-ROK, U.S.-Japan, and trilateral coordination on North Korea to achieve complete denuclearization and bring lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula," the State Department said in a statement.
ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.
Lee spoke briefly to reporters as he left the meetings but refused to share details.
"We spoke mostly about how to keep the momentum for dialogue (with North Korea)," he said. "South Korea and the U.S. are coordinating well and we will continue to do so."
North Korea had demanded that the U.S. come to the table with a new proposal after the summit in Vietnam broke down over differences on how much the North should denuclearize before receiving sanctions relief from the U.S.
Pyongyang has also stepped up calls for U.S. security guarantees for its regime.
Lee, the South Korean envoy, became a target of North Korean criticism Tuesday.
In an article published in the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper based in Japan, the North denounced the South for trying to play a "mediating role" in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington and claimed that Seoul cannot do anything independently of Washington.
"It is dumbfounding, as what role on earth the South is trying to play at a time when it can't do anything but just pay attention to what the U.S. says," the paper said.