- 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
- 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
- "I've been disappointed in Kim Jong-il not rising
to the occasion, being so suspicious, so secretive," he said.
- NORTH DETERMINED TO MAKE BUSH PAY
- 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
- 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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