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Ministerial-level Korea talks put off

By P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE April 7. A ministerial-level meeting, scheduled to begin in Pyongyang today as part of the dialogue between the two Koreas, has been put off indefinitely.

Even as South Korea pointed the accusing finger at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or the North) for this turn of events, Pyongyang sought to redefine the current crisis as one that the United Nations Security Council would have no jurisdiction to address. The freeze in the inter-Korean dialogue process, which had picked up unusual momentum in recent months, follows the North's refusal to talk to the South in the context of a perception that Seoul is intensifying its strategic military ties with the United States. However, even as Seoul and Pyongyang tend to regard the other as the villain of this latest piece of diplomatic tussle, the DPRK has gone on a political offensive against the U.S. and the U.N., ahead of an anticipated debate by the Security Council on the North Korean nuclear armament issue.

A spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry declared that "the DPRK will not recognise any resolution to be adopted at the United Nations Security Council meeting to be called by the U.S., which launched the (current) war (in Iraq, by) defying the U.N.'' Pyongyang's reference to a prospective resolution is related to the issue of North Korea's suspected nuclear armament programme in the specific context of the recent decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency to ask the U.N. Security Council to address this question.

Presuming that any debate in the Security Council would lead to an international inspection of the North Korean nuclear programme or even a war on the DPRK, the Kim Jong-il regime posed the issue in the following manner. "The United States (has) forced the U.N. Security Council to call a meeting on April 9 to discuss the DPRK's withdrawal from the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). As pointed out by the January 10 statement of the DPRK Government, its withdrawal from the NPT has already taken effect. (However), the U.S. and some countries insist on a `legal argument' that the DPRK's withdrawal takes effect after April 10 (this week) .... (So) the UNSC's (proposed) handling of the nuclear issue on the (Korean) peninsula is precisely a prelude to war.''

Accusing the U.S. of having already trifled with the Security Council over the current Iraq crisis, the DPRK Government said, "The Iraqi war shows that, to allow (any) disarming through (international) inspection does not help avert a war but rather sparks it.

Neither international public opinion nor the U.N. Charter could prevent the U.S. from mounting an attack on Iraq (at this time). This suggests that even the signing of a non-aggression treaty with the U.S. (as proposed by North Korea) would not help avert a war'' on the Korean peninsula.

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