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North Korea Ignores Russian Criticism of Yeonpyeong Attack


North Korea has issued a report about its foreign minister's latest talks with Russian officials that ignores Russian criticism of a deadly North Korean attack on a South Korean island last month.

North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency said Tuesday Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, discussed developing "friendly" relations during their meeting the previous day in Moscow.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Lavrov told the North Korean official that Pyongyang's November 23 artillery strike on Yeonpyeong island "resulted in loss of life" and "deserves condemnation."

KCNA made no mention of that remark. Instead, it reported that Russia expressed "deep apprehension" about U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises and South Korean actions that North Korea says provoked its attack on Yeonpyeong. The North Korean shelling killed four South Koreans.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Lavrov expressed "serious concern" about growing tensions on the Korean peninsula and blamed such tensions on a series of "large-scale military exercises," without naming any country.

KCNA says Russia "took notice" of North Korea's claim that it has a right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The news agency ignored Lavrov's statement of "deep concern" about North Korea's recent unveiling of a uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon, a facility that gives the country a second potential route to developing nuclear weapons. North Korea already has a plutonium-based weapons program.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Tuesday his government has intelligence of other enrichment facilities in North Korea and has been following the issue "for some time."

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper quoted an unidentified intelligence source Tuesday as saying South Korea and the United States believe North Korea may be enriching uranium at three or four additional locations.

Meanwhile, China says North Korean officials acknowledged the need to avoid escalating tensions between the two Koreas when Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo visited Pyongyang last week.

China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday North Korean officials also responded positively to a Chinese proposal for emergency talks on the regional situation involving the six nations that have negotiated over North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

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