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N. Korea Rejects Dialogue With South

  • Kurt Achin

North Korea is rejecting a call for dialogue with South Korea. In an official newspaper commentary, Pyongyang lashed out at Seoul's main official in charge of North Korea policy.

North Korea lashed out at South Korean Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong Tuesday. Pyongyang's official Rodung Shinmun newspaper described him as the leader of a group of "confrontational fanatics with their bones filled up with hostility."

Kim is South Korea's chief policy official on North Korea. He is visiting China to discuss topics such as stalled diplomacy to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea has sharpened its rhetoric steadily toward the South since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office here in January. Pyongyang frequently refers to Mr. Lee as a "traitor," and said in Tuesday's editorial he is surrounded by "lunatics mad for blood and extreme hostility toward their own brethren."

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said Tuesday in Seoul, North Korea should examine its own actions.

He says North Korea blames the South for a worsening in inter-Korean ties, but it is actually the North's steps which have strained the relationship.

North Korea severely restricted border crossings at the start of this month, and slashed the number of South Korean staff at a joint industrial park in the city of Kaesong. Earlier this year, operations at a joint tourism zone were suspended after North Korean soldiers shot a visiting South Korean housewife and then refused to cooperate in an investigation.

U.S. and South Korean officials say the North has also broken a key understanding in talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs. Pyongyang has refused to allow scientific sampling at suspected nuclear sites, and so far will not commit to a written agreement about verifying a nuclear declaration it made earlier this year.

North Korea accuses the South's President Lee of failing to uphold a past summit agreement between the two sides calling for massive aid and investment to the impoverished North. The Lee administration has demanded more reciprocity on the nuclear and other issues from Pyongyang in exchange for the South's assistance.

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