Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 1 News List

N Korea calls officials `imbeciles'

AP , SEOUL

Two men bite North Korean flags during a rally to protest members of the South Korean Democratic Labor Party visiting North Korea at Incheon International airport, west of Seoul, South Korea, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

North Korea called Japanese officials "political imbeciles" yesterday for saying they won't accept Pyongyang as a nuclear power, less than a week after it agreed to return to international arms talks.

Pyongyang demanded that Japan stay away from the negotiations, and also condemned the US as "fanatic warmongers who destroy peace and security on the Korean peninsula."

The North agreed earlier this week to return to the international disarmament negotiations -- which also include China, Russia, the US and South Korea -- in the first easing of tension after its Oct. 9 nuclear test. The talks have been stalled for a year.

A statement from North Korea's Foreign Ministry yesterday said "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 US and it is enough for Tokyo just to be informed of the results of the talks by Washington."

The Foreign Ministry said most of the international community had welcomed North Korea's return to the talks, but that "it is only Japan that expressed its wicked intention," referring to comments by Tokyo that it will not accept a nuclear North Korea.

"The Japanese authorities have thus clearly proved themselves that they are political imbeciles," added the statement, carried by the North's official Korea Central News Agency, or KCNA.

An official from Japan's Foreign Ministry said the government was aware of North Korea's statement, and was considering a response. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

The North also kept up its verbal attack on the US in an editorial in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper.

"The US has become more fanatic in pushing for its war scheme to attack the North, taking issue with our war-deterrent measure we were compelled to strengthen to protect our sovereignty and right to survive from their serious threat," the editorial said.

Meanwhile, North Korean President Kim Jong-il visited an army unit, KCNA reported late on Friday, his first public military visit since last month's test. It was not clear from the report when Kim made the visit.

In a meeting with visiting members of South Korea's minor opposition Democratic Labor Party, or DLP, Kim also cast doubts on Washington's sincerity in resolving "fundamental problems between North Korea and the US," according to a statement on the DLP Web site.

The South Korean delegation, who returned to Seoul yesterday, said North Korean officials agreed on the need to resume reunion visits for families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War and expressed interest in holding talks over the issue.

The North suspended the reunions, which had been held periodically, in anger at South Korea's decision to suspend regular humanitarian aid to the communist nation after its test-firing of missiles in July.

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