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North Korea Says No Talks With Rice, US

Just days before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to arrive in the South Korean capital, North Korea says it will not rejoin nuclear talks unless she apologizes for comments she made several weeks ago.

North Korea called Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "reckless" and "bereft of political logic" Wednesday. Ms. Rice is on a tour of Asia, which includes a stop in Seoul on Saturday.

North Korea's official news agency quotes a government spokesman who demands that Ms. Rice retract her description of North Korea as an "outpost of tyranny."

Secretary Rice is working with regional partners China, South Korea, Russia and Japan to persuade North Korea to return to nuclear talks. The five nations hope to convince Pyongyang to live up to international agreements to remain free of nuclear weapons.

However, Pyongyang says Ms. Rice's failure to apologize for her remark, made several weeks ago, demonstrates Washington is not ready to negotiate.

Professor Nam Sung-Wook specializes in North Korea at Korea University here in Seoul. He says he is not surprised by North Korea's comments.

Professor Nam says the statements from Pyongyang are consistent with North Korea's long-held position that the United States has a hostile attitude toward it.

Pyongyang says it requires a nuclear deterrent to counter that hostility. Secretary Rice and other U.S. officials have repeatedly asserted that Washington has no intention of attacking North Korea.

North Korea also has expressed anger at military exercises the United States is holding with South Korean forces. Pyongyang this week said the annual training, which begins Saturday, is preparation for an invasion of the North and shows the United States is not serious about peacefully resolving the nuclear issue.

The United States has maintained military bases in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953, and now has about 30,000 troops in the country. Washington was Seoul's ally in the war, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

North Korea has on numerous occasions ruled out returning to the six-party talks, then hinted it may return after all. This week, the chief U.S. delegate to the talks, Christopher Hill, said Washington needs to see progress in the six-party process, or it may need to seek other ways of dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. He did not elaborate on what other methods might be used.