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Saturday, November 04, 2006


North Korea says Japan not welcome at nuclear talks

By Jack Kim.

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Saturday Japan should not bother to attend six-country nuclear talks because Tokyo is refusing to recognise the reclusive communist country as a nuclear weapons state.

"There is no need for Japan to participate in (the talks) as a local delegate because it is no more than a state of the U.S. and it is enough for Tokyo just to be informed of the results of the talks by Washington," North Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Japan's refusal to accept the North as a nuclear weapons state when the talks resume later this year proved they were "political imbeciles incapable of judging the trend of the situation", said the statement carried by the North's official Korea Central News Agency.

North Korea agreed on Tuesday to return to the talks involving the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States after snubbing them for a year in protest over a U.S. crackdown on its international finances.

North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on October 9 and is now referring to itself as "a responsible nuclear weapons state."

"It is unacceptable that North Korea returns to the six-party talks on the premise that it has become a nuclear weapons state," Noriyuki Shikata, a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Saturday.


A South Korean government official said it was "preposterous" to assert the goal of the talks has changed since an agreement in principle was reached in September 2005, under which North Korea would dismantle its nuclear programmes in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

But some analysts said Pyongyang's nuclear test and agreement to return to the talks three weeks later likely marked the beginning of North Korea's pursuit to turn the six-way talks into bilateral arms reduction negotiations with the United States.

North Korea has feuded with Japan over the abduction of at least 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and the 1980s, and criticised Japan for raising the issue at the six-way talks.

Tokyo has been implementing U.N. sanctions imposed after the North launched ballistic missiles in July and in moving to apply additional U.N. measures after Pyongyang conducted its nuclear test.

Pyongyang's number two official said on Friday that North Korea agreed to come back to the six-party talks to give the United States a face-saving way out of the impasse, and it was now Washington's turn to show good faith by ending the financial crackdown.

"The result of the six-party talks depends on the attitude of the U.S.," the president of North Korea's assembly, Kim Yong-nam, was quoted as saying by South Korea's leftist Democratic Labour Party, whose delegation was visiting Pyongyang.

The Bush administration had "used the six-way talks as a campaign tactic" in next week's mid-term elections instead of working to resolve the conflict between the two countries, Kim was quoted as saying.

Washington has said it was willing to discuss at the talks the North's illicit activities that triggered a financial crackdown on a Macau-based bank.

Japanese police sources were cited as saying in Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on Saturday that North Korea used accounts at Banco Delta Asia to buy equipment that could be used to develop biological and nuclear weapons.

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