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North Korea Accuses Bush of Insulting the Communist Country


North Korea says President Bush has insulted the communist country and it will not restart talks with the United States. The North Korean response is the first since Mr. Bush renewed the call for dialogue during his visit to South Korea this week.

Calling Mr. Bush a "politically backward child," the North's Foreign Ministry flatly rejected Washington's invitation to resume talks.

In a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency Friday, an unidentified ministry official said Mr. Bush had slandered the communist state's political system by referring to it as a "despotic regime." He said North Korea will never pardon such an insult nor will it participate in any future talks, which the North termed "useless."

In South Korea Wednesday, President Bush reiterated that his administration was ready to begin negotiations with Pyongyang to resolve long-standing issues, including North Korea's nuclear weapons programs and missile exports.

But he said that his willingness to talk did not signal a change in his opinion of North Korea, which Mr. Bush described last month as part of an "axis of evil." The president said he still remained deeply skeptical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his government, which he termed a "despotic regime."

The Bush administration suspended talks more than a year ago to conduct a policy review.

On Thursday, the president asked Chinese President Jiang Zemin to help persuade North Korea back to the negotiating table.

The United States fought on the side of South Korea during the three-year Korean War, which ended in 1953 in an armed truce. The Chinese backed the North Koreans. About 37,000 U.S. troops are still in South Korea to help defend the South in case of a North Korean attack.

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