- SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea
curtly rebuffed South Korean efforts on Wednesday to prod the communist
North to be more helpful in solving a nuclear crisis an said the solution
of the year-old dispute was up to the United States.
- South Korean media pool reports from inter-Korean ministerial
talks in Pyongyang said the chief North Korean delegate quickly shut down
discussion of the nuclear issue that has heightened tension in Asia for
the past year.
"We have already revealed our principled position on the nuclear question
to the whole world," North Korean senior cabinet councilor Kim Ryong-song
was quoted as telling the South.
"I have nothing more to say on this, because the nuclear issue depends
entirely on the U.S. attitude," he said in his keynote address to
open the October 14-17 meeting in Pyongyang.
Kim's remarks were in response to the South Korean chief delegate, Unification
Minister Jeong Se-hyun, who called on the North to take a "more forward-looking
approach" toward diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue.
China, Russia, the two Koreas, Japan and the United States held an inconclusive
first round of talks in Beijing in late August.
All sides pledged to avoid steps that would aggravate the year-old dispute.
But North Korea has since continued to ratchet up pressure in the row with
announcements it had moved forward in its drive to build nuclear weapons.
Jeong, who had intended to use this week's talks to urge the North Koreans
to accept an early resumption of the six-country nuclear talks, told reporters
last week that North Korea's recent actions had complicated the crisis
Early this month, North Korea said it had redirected plutonium extracted
from thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods to help enhance its deterrent
Pyongyang has made conflicting statements about whether it wants another
round of talks, at one point saying a further meeting would be of no use,
but then saying that Japan was not qualified to attend future negotiations.
North Korea has asserted for the past year that it faces an imminent threat
of armed attack from the United States. It wants Washington to sign and
ratify a non-aggression treaty before it will dismantle its banned nuclear
- In a move China hailed as a "flexible and positive
gesture," Secretary of State Colin Powell said last week the United
States had drafted new ideas on security assurances to offer to reclusive
Powell said the United States envisaged a public written document, preferably
signed by some of North Korea's neighbors, but not the formal non-aggression
treaty that Pyongyang demands.
The North has yet to respond to Powell's plan.
- This week's talks in the North Korean capital are the
12th ministerial meeting since a thaw in Korean ties began in 2000. North
Korea has consistently insisted cabinet-level talks stay focused on South
Korean economic help for the impoverished North.
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