North Korea Lashes Out At
Bush And Refuses To Talk
By Martin Nesirky

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea flatly rejected U.S. President George W. Bush's call for renewed talks and told him on Friday he would "pay dearly" for remarks he made about the Communist state and its leader Kim Jong-il.
Before and during last week's Pacific Rim summit in Shanghai, Bush described Kim as suspicious and secretive but urged him to "prove his worth" by holding talks with Washington and South Korea that could help improve the lives of North Koreans.
"His remarks prove that he does not know any elementary etiquette and has no common sense as a statesman, not to speak of a head of state," the official newspaper Minju Joson said.
"The Bush administration should make a sincere apology to the Korean people for Bush's reckless remarks," the official KCNA news agency quoted the newspaper as saying.
Minju Joson said Bush was to blame for the stalemate in talks and described the president's policy toward Pyongyang as "vicious" and "hostile", particularly given that Washington wanted to discuss North Korea's conventional weapons capability.
"Now that the U.S. tries to disarm the DPRK, while persistently pursuing the hostile policy toward the DPRK, the DPRK is not interested in any dialogue and improvement of relations with the U.S.," the newspaper said.
DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official title, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The newspaper's comments appeared to leave little room for manoeuvre. But North Korea has made an art form out of public bluster, brinkmanship and on-off negotiating tactics.
The Minju Joson, one of two main official newspapers Pyongyang uses to disseminate government views, took particular issue with remarks Bush made about Kim Jong-il -- revered in the North as the "Dear Leader".
In comments prior to and at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai, Bush said he was disappointed Kim had failed to visit South Korea, or to agree to meetings between North Korean and U.S. representatives.
"I've been disappointed in Kim Jong-il not rising to the occasion, being so suspicious, so secretive," he said.
In Shanghai, he urged Kim to "prove his worth" by showing he was interested in peace and improving North Koreans' lives.
U.S.-North Korean contacts were put on hold when Bush took office in January and called for a review of predecessor Bill Clinton's policies that had led to a flurry of exchanges between Cold War foes North and South Korea in late 2000.
Washington said in June it was willing to resume talks without preconditions on a range of issues, including the North's missile programme and suspected nuclear weapons development.
"They (the North Korean people and military) are determined to make him pay dearly for his remarks," the newspaper said.
A separate KCNA commentary said North Korea "will further increase its capability for self-defence to wipe out the U.S. and its followers at one swoop if they dare ignite a war".
It called for the withdrawal of the 37,000 U.S. troops from the South, calling them "a cancer-like threat to the peace on the Korean peninsula and the stability in Northeast Asia".
Friday's Minju Joson commentary repeated its demand the Bush administration adopt a stance similar to that of the Clinton administration to ease the way for a resumption of talks.
North Korea has said there can be no talks as long as Washington continues to raise the issue of North Korea's weapons capability.
Washington has suggested including the North's concentration of troops and weapons on its border with South Korea in talks. KCNA called the call for renewed talks and focus on conventional troops a "contradictory and shameless argument".
Pyongyang has also postponed a reunion of separated family members and North Korea's Kim has failed to repay an earlier visit by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
His "sunshine policy" of engaging the North is widely backed abroad but increasingly criticised at home for failing to produce more concrete results.
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