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North Korea Outlines Criteria for New Talks


North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations says there will be no new talks about nuclear disarmament until Washington repeals a recently passed human rights law condemning North Korea.

In a Wall Street Journal report Wednesday, Ambassador Han Song Ryol also insisted that President Bush stop including North Korea in his axis of evil nations.

Iraq and Iran also were on the original list. Last week, a senior U.S. diplomat said North Korea along with Syria and Iran were the world's foremost proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. human rights law challenges North Korea to grant its people free speech. Until Pyongyang agrees, the law blocks U.S. aid to the impoverished Stalinist state except for humanitarian assistance.

Stephen Linton provides medical aid to North Korea for the Eugene Bell Foundation. He says the ambassador's position reveals Pyongyang's mounting frustration with Washington's demands.

"From the North Korean perspective it looks like the U.S. is asking them to jump through a series of hoops in order to fundamentally change their society and the human rights bill was a list of hoops," said Mr. Linton.

Ambassador Han called the new law a direct attack on Pyongyang's socialist regime.

His comments come amid the hotly contested U.S. presidential elections. The two White House candidates have sharply different approaches to North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.

President Bush favors six-nation disarmament talks while Senator John Kerry says he would initiate direct negotiations with Pyongyang, in addition to pursuing multilateral talks.

But Mr. Han insisted North Korea's demands will stand regardless of who is elected Tuesday. It is not a question of who wins, he said, but who will change U.S. policy toward Pyongyang.

The United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia are pushing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs. Three rounds of talks so far have made little progress on the issue. A fourth round planned for September was scrapped when North Korea refused to attend.

Pyongyang says it must have security guarantees and greater economic aid before it freezes its nuclear programs.

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