North Korea says it will no longer recognize Japan as a member of the
six-party disarmament talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear
In a statement issued Saturday, the North's Foreign Ministry said it will not "treat Japan as a party to the talks" or deal with Japanese officials if they show up at the meetings.
The move was in response to Tokyo's refusal to provide its share of energy aid promised to Pyongyang.
On Monday, envoys from the United States, the two Koreas, China, Russia and Japan are due to open a new round of talks in Beijing aimed at ending the isolated communist country's nuclear program in exchange for energy aid and other benefits.
On Friday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill wrapped up two days of preliminary talks with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye Kwan, in Singapore.
Hill said they exchanged views on how de-nuclearization will be verified. But, he said there was no progress on how the issue of sampling at Pyongyang's nuclear facilities will be treated in writing.
The United States wants Pyongyang to commit in writing to allow international inspectors to take samples from North Korea's nuclear facilities.
Washington says the North already agreed to sampling at a meeting with Hill in October. But Pyongyang denies it.
The United States, Japan and South Korea want the North to sign a written document detailing the sampling process to avoid similar impasses in the future.
Hill will stop in Seoul today before flying to Beijing. U.S. officials say the envoy will meet with his Chinese, Japanese, Russian and South Korean counterparts on Sunday.