Friday, March 04, 2005

N Korea tells US to rebuild groundwork for talks

By Anna Fifield, Financial Times, 3 March 2005

North Korea on Thursday called on the US to “rebuild the groundwork” for multilateral talks on its nuclear weapons programmes by apologising for labelling it an “outpost of tyranny”. Underlining Pyongyang’s belief that the Bush administration’s “hostile” policies towards it were blocking the resumption of six-party talks, North Korea also said it no longer felt obliged to abide by the 1999 moratorium on missile testing agreed with former US president Bill Clinton.

The statement, from North Korea’s foreign ministry and carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, firmly plants the ball back in Washington’s court. “If the US truly wants a negotiated solution to the DPRK-US nuclear issue, it should rebuild the groundwork of the talks it destroyed unilaterally,” the statement said, using the country’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang admonished President George W Bush for including North Korea in the “axis of evil” nations three years ago, and for Condoleezza Rice, his new secretary of state, to call it an “outpost of tyranny” in her January confirmation speech. "How can we sit at the negotiating table with the US given that the US has rejected the government of the DPRK?” it said. In the Korean language version of the statement, Pyongyang said the deterioration of the relationship meant it could feel free to test missiles again. “Dialogue between the US and North Korea has been completely blocked since Bush took office in 2001. As a result, we see no binding force on the missile moratorium.”----------------------------

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