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US Envoy Says North Korea Talks In Bad Way

The North agreed in principle in September last year to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sep 06, 2006
Efforts to drive North Korea back to stalled nuclear talks are in big trouble, the top US negotiator said Wednesday after meeting a senior Chinese official to try and forge a breakthrough. "I think clearly we are in a very difficult moment with the six-party talks process because the DPRK (North Korea) is not giving the signals it wants to return," Christopher Hill told reporters in Beijing.

Hill's latest trip to the region comes amid media reports that North Korea could soon test a nuclear bomb. Pyongyang said in February 2005 that it was a nuclear power but is not known to have tested an atomic weapon.

The US envoy, who is on a regional tour, said he had spoken with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei about "the danger that the DPRK could take additional, provocative steps."

"We talked about the need to make very clear to the DPRK that this would be a very, very unwelcome development," he told reporters, when asked directly about a possible nuclear test.

The North agreed in principle in September last year to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

But Pyongyang walked out of talks two months later to protest US sanctions on a Macau-based bank accused of laundering and counterfeiting money on behalf of the impoverished regime.

The six-nation talks -- involving China, the United States, the two Koreas, Japan and Russia -- were further waylaid when North Korea tested ballistic missiles in July.

The tests resulted in a UN Security Council resolution which called on the global community to work together to prevent North Korea from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and urged Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks.

Hill nudged China to make sure it was applying the right pressure on Pyongyang, and said Washington would be looking into possible financial and other economic sanctions against North Korea in accordance with the resolution.

"China understands that the UN Security Council resolution needs to be fully implemented. We would expect the Chinese to do the same pursuant to their obligations," he said.

The topic was likely to soon be discussed in a meeting between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in New York, said Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

According to South Korean lawmaker Choi Jae-Cheon, the international uproar over the missile tests has now led North Korea's ruling circle to believe that the launches were a mistake.

"North Korea's leadership has concluded in an internal report that the missile tests were a mistake," Choi of the ruling Uri Party told AFP Wednesday.

"North Korea's leadership believes the missile launch has caused unwanted political results as it deepened the country's isolation."

He did not say how he learned of the report but said the North was surprised by the severity of the international condemnation, including from China.

Hill said late Tuesday he believed China was "disappointed" with Pyongyang's decision to test-fire the missiles.

"Clearly, what happened in July was a very difficult moment for China," Hill said.

Hill arrived in Beijing from Tokyo on Tuesday as part of a five-day tour of China.

He left the Chinese capital Wednesday for visits to US diplomatic missions in Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai, US officials said. He will also visit Seoul on September 10.

His visit has come amid South Korean press reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il was either visiting or preparing to visit China.

"I have asked and not gotten any more concrete information on these rumors, they remain as far as I'm concerned to be rumors," Hill said of the reports.

China said Tuesday it had not made any arrangements for a visit, but previous Kim visits to Beijing have been secretive and not announced until after he returns to the North.

North Korea Cites Iraq And Lebanon To Justify Strong Military

Meanwhile, North Korea Wednesday cited the lessons of Iraq and Lebanon to justify its drive for a strong military to counter "US imperialists." "In order for any country to defend itself it is important to have a correct view on war, among other things. This can be proved by what happened in Iraq," said Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the ruling communist party.

"The Iraqi army and people lacked the readiness, fighting spirit and faith that they should struggle against the imperialists in a do-or-die spirit and win victory over them at any cost," it added in an article carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Seoul.

"What happened in Lebanon and Iraq prove the truth that a country with weak military capacity can neither defend its sovereignty nor contribute to the peace and security in the world," it said in reference to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and this summer's Israeli attacks in Lebanon.

The paper said that a country "can reliably defend itself only when it manufactures necessary weapons by itself. It is essential to fortify the whole country. This is more essential in case of a modern war where there is no difference between the front and the rear."

North Korea, whose armed forces number around 1.2 million, is embroiled in a dispute with the West over its nuclear and missile programmes. Its test-launch of seven missiles in July prompted missile-related sanctions from the United Nations.

"If the US imperialists dare test its theory of strength against the DPRK (North Korea), they will not be able to escape their final destruction," the article added.

"When the progressive countries and nations of the world firmly defend themselves with their own military power, the imperialists and reactionaries will not be able to perpetrate aggression and war as they please."

Since November the North has boycotted six-nation talks aimed at halting its nuclear programme. The US envoy to the talks, Christopher Hill, said in Beijing Wednesday that the United States and China are having difficulties persuading it to return to the negotiations.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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