Thu, Mar 18, 2004 - Page 5 News List

N. Korea says US forced impeachment

REUTERS , SEOUL

The US instigated the impeachment of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun to bring to power a pro-US government, North Korea said yesterday in its first detailed commentary on the political row.

The communist North's official KCNA news agency said the opposition-led parliamentary ballot to impeach the left-leaning Roh last Friday was "unprecedented political gangsterism" resembling a military coup and had embarrassed all Koreans.

"The US is chiefly to blame for the incident," KCNA said.

"The US egged the South Korean political quacks, obsessed by the greed for power, on to stage such incident in a bid to install an ultra-right pro-US regime there," it said.

The commentary echoed and built on remarks on Sunday by a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the North Korean body that oversees ties with the South. That spokesman said Washington had plotted the impeachment but he did not elaborate.

South Korea, run by Prime Minister Goh Kun as acting president while the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold the impeachment vote, has rebuffed North Korean attempts to link the dispute to bilateral issues.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said on Monday Seoul would question the North's sincerity if it slow-pedalled talks aimed at trying to eliminate North Korea's illicit nuclear arms programs because of the vote.

In the first fallout for North-South Korean ties, Seoul canceled bilateral economic talks planned for Monday after Pyongyang asked for a venue switch to the North because of political uncertainty.

Goh, a 66-year-old bureaucrat, has urged military forces facing the communist North to be vigilant.

Yesterday's KCNA commentary appeared likely to ruffle feathers further in South Korea.

"This chaos has pushed the political situation of South Korea to an unpredictable phase, betraying the backwardness of its politics before the world," KCNA said.

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