Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 5 News List

N Korea rebukes Seoul over vote

COCKY RESPONSE An official blamed South Korea for damaging relations between the two countries and said the North did not need food aid and was 'self-sufficient'

AGENCIES , SEOUL AND TOKYO

A North Korean official said inter-Korean relations depend on South Korea's attitude and criticized Seoul for supporting a recent UN resolution condemning the communist regime's human rights record, a news report said yesterday.

In related news, representatives from Japan and the US are meeting in Beijing today to discuss North Korea's weapons program.

The North Korean official at the National Reconciliation Council called Seoul's move "an act of defiance" and blamed the South for creating a stumbling block to inter-Korean ties, Yonhap news agency said without naming the official.

South Korea earlier this month voted in favor of a UN resolution accusing the North of public executions, torture and other human rights violations. The draft resolution goes next to a plenary meeting of the 192-nation UN assembly for final approval.

The North has recently stepped up criticism of the UN resolution, saying it tows the US line and is "full of sheer lies."

The official quoted by Yonhap yesterday was pessimistic about the resumption of inter-Korean talks, claiming North Korean people would not support the talks.

The two sides held their last high-level talks in July, following the North's missile launches, but relations have since deteriorated and the South has suspended regular humanitarian aid. After the North claimed to have conducted its first nuclear test last month, Seoul vowed to comply with UN sanctions.

The official also dismissed outside concerns of a possible winter food crisis, saying "we are fine and we can be self-sufficient."

Relief workers have recently said the North has food shortages this year and could face a famine similar to the one in the 1990s, which is believed to have killed some 2 million people.

Meanwhile, Japan's negotiator in the stalled North Korea nuclear talks was heading to Beijing, the government said yesterday, where he would discuss reviving the negotiations with his Chinese and US counterparts.

Kenichiro Sasae will visit from today through Tuesday to meet with Chinese officials for talks over North Korea and Sino-Japan ties, the foreign ministry said in a brief statement.

US envoy Christopher Hill is also travelling to Beijing today to discuss the issue, Washington announced earlier.

According to Kyodo News, China has also requested that North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, the North's chief delegate in the talks, visit Beijing on Tuesday, making it possible that all four delegates will meet.

Japan, China and the US will meet initially to coordinate their opinions, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper said.

The six-nation forum groups the two Koreas, China, the US, Japan and Russia and is designed to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Hill expressed optimism this week that talks aimed at halting Pyongyang's nuclear drive could resume next month.

But Kang Sok Ju, first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, separately told journalists in Beijing that Pyongyang had no intention of giving up nuclear arms.

The six-nation talks, launched in 2003, broke down a year ago when Pyongyang walked out in protest at US financial sanctions.

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