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N. Korea Reiterates Need for Non-Aggression Pact with US

North Korea is reiterating that it wants a non-aggression pact and diplomatic ties with Washington before it will give up its nuclear weapons program. The statement comes a few weeks before talks on Pyongyang's weapons program.

North Korea's official news agency says it is "impossible and unthinkable" that it would allow inspections of its nuclear facilities without changes in U.S. policy. The Korean Central News Agency, quoting a Foreign Ministry official, says Washington needs to sign a non-aggression treaty with North Korea and drop its hostile stance toward the communist state.

The comments made Wednesday may signal the posture Pyongyang will take at coming talks to resolve the international dispute over its nuclear weapons program.

The United States, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea are to meet in Beijing, probably starting on August 27.

The North Korean report also rejects the idea a collective security guarantee by the participants in the Beijing talks. The dispatch says only the United States threatens North Korea, so a collective security pledge is meaningless.

The Bush administration has opposed a security agreement.

Noriyuki Suzuki is a North Korea expert at Tokyo's Radiopress, which monitors and translates broadcasts from Pyongyang. He says both North Korea and Washington are doing a bit of posturing ahead of the talks. He says both governments are buying time. He thinks the United States wants to wear down the impoverished nation. On the other hand, North Korea is racing to develop nuclear weapons so it can have a powerful deterrent.

In Washington, U.S., Japanese and South Korean diplomats are meeting to coordinate their strategy for the Beijing talks. And China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing arrived in Seoul Wednesday to brief the South Korean government about a recent Chinese delegation to North Korea.

Mr. Suzuki at Radiopress says he sees some negotiating room in the North Korean position. Mr. Suzuki says he does not think Wednesday's statement indicates a firm negotiating stance because North Korea dropped its rhetoric about the non-aggression pact until recently. He says it appears to have been revived for posturing ahead of the Beijing talks. The dispute began in October, when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted having a secret nuclear program in violation of international agreements.

Since then, Pyongyang has expelled international nuclear inspectors and withdrawn from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

North Korea says it needs nuclear bombs to fend off a possible attack from the United States. Washington says it has no intention of attacking the country.