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N. Korea to Consider Any Form of Dialogue with US - 2003-04-12

North Korea says it is prepared to consider any form of dialogue with the United States regarding its nuclear moves, if Washington is prepared to make a "bold" change in its policy toward Pyongyang. North Korea has previously insisted on bilateral talks with the United States, while Washington has insisted on a multilateral approach.

North Korea's official news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman Saturday as saying Pyongyang was ready to discuss the nuclear issue in any dialogue format.

Previously, Pyongyang had repeatedly said it would only agree to one-on-one discussions with Washington as a way of settling the dispute. Washington has been insisting on a multilateral forum, including South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.

Saturday's statement from Pyongyang said that if Washington was ready to make a "bold switchover" in its policy towards the North, the North "will not stick to any particular dialogue format."

Since the dispute over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions flared up last October, Pyongyang has engaged in a number of provocative actions, and has been making statements warning Washington against any invasion.

Earlier Saturday, the official news agency reported that members of the Young Vanguard communist youth group had vowed to turn themselves into "human bombs" to protect the country.

North Korea's neighbors, meanwhile, continue to call for a peaceful solution to the crisis. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun announced plans to visit Japan, China and Russia after a scheduled trip to Washington next month, to look for ways to reduce the regional tension.

Mr. Roh's foreign minister, Yoon Young-kwan, was in Beijing Friday on a similar mission. China's new premier, Wen Jiabao, told him China will make "unremitting efforts" to ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

China, along with Russia, played a key role in blocking any U.N. action on the North Korea nuclear issue during a Security Council meeting Wednesday. The council was meeting after Pyongyang expelled U.N. nuclear inspectors, and announced that it had withdrawn from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Pyongyang said even before the meeting that it would ignore any action by the Security Council. And on Friday, it said nuclear inspectors would not be allowed back into North Korea.