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N. Korea Repeats Demand US Sign Non-Aggression Treaty  - 2003-09-30


At the United Nations Tuesday, North Korea's deputy foreign minister, Choe Su Hon, repeated his government's insistence that the United States agree to a non-agression pact with his country, to solve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The foreign minister declared his country has no interest for the time being in further talks on the issue.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Choe said North Korea wants to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations. But he said discussions will be of no use unless both sides agree to end hostilities simultaneously.

The United States is demanding that North Korea scrap its nuclear weapons program. North Korea insists that the United States sign a non-aggression treaty first.

Japan, South Korea and the United States are trying to get North Korea back to the bargaining table to discuss its nuclear program. Little progress was made on the issue in August when a North Korean delegation met with representatives of Japan, South Korea and the United States, along with officials from China and Russia, to look for a way out of the nuclear standoff.

Mr. Choe accused the United States of using the six-party talks in August as a way to disarm and stifle North Korea. Consequently, he said North Korea has no interest in future talks. "We have never made any promises with regard to the next round of the six-party talks," he said. "All developments concerning the nuclear issue prove well that pressure can never be a means for settlement of the nuclear issue and multiparty talks can be fruitful only when there is commitment for abandonment of the policy hostile to the DPRK. Our demand is modest and simple We just want both sides to drop the guns simultaneously."

The deputy foreign minister's comments underscored North Korea's latest position on whether it would participate in a new round of talks. A foreign ministry statement issued earlier said North Korea will enhance its nuclear deterrent force to defend itself against the United States.

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