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DPRK: Exclude US, Japan from Regional Talks

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Wednesday called for regional security talks among Northeast Asian nations, but said the United States and Japan should be excluded.

"The countries that have interest in Northeast Asian regional security issues and the countries that lie together should gather and discuss security issues, and must make active efforts to exclude the United States and Japan," the main Rodong Sinmun daily wrote in a commentary carried by the DPRK's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Since the United States lies across the Pacific Ocean and Japan is an island separated from the rest of Asia, they have no direct stake in the region's peace and security, the commentary said.

It also accused the United States of trying to provoke confrontations among Northeast Asian countries in order to gain the upper hand militarily in the region.

The newspaper also for the first time mentioned the Republic of Korea's (ROK) new government policy seeking a balancing role in the region, alleging it was "causing discord with the United States."

ROK President Roh Moo-hyun's initiative has provoked concerns at home that Seoul may hurt its traditional alliance with the United States and Japan by adopting a neutral position among regional powers.

However, Roh has insisted that the policy is based on Seoul's firm alliance with Washington.

The United States and its allies are trying to persuade the DPRK to return to international nuclear disarmament talks that have been on hold since June.

US officials have repeatedly insisted the problem is a regional issue affecting all countries in the talks - including China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas - and spurned the DPRK's demands for direct talks.

Separately, Pyongyang criticized Japan for approving a history textbook that has drawn criticism from China and the ROK for glossing over Tokyo's abuses during its colonial occupations of Asia.

"This betrays philistinism peculiar to Japan, a vulgar and shameless political dwarf," said a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman, according to KCNA.

"The army and people of the DPRK will never tolerate the Japanese reactionaries' reckless moves to tamper with history and their claim to Tok Islet," he said, referring to a set of rocky islets controlled by the ROK and subject of recently diplomatic tension between Seoul and Tokyo.

(China Daily April 14, 2005)


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