North Korea says six-nation talks on dismantling its nuclear programme have been suspended "for an indefinite period" because of US financial sanctions.
In its latest response to comments by a US envoy that Pyongyang is a "criminal regime" engaged in money laundering and counterfeiting, a spokesman for North Korea's foreign ministry said the United States was "faking up lies" to disrupt the six-way talks.
"The US is now overturning the basic principles of the joint statement reached at the six-party talks one by one," the spokesman said in an interview with the North's official Korean Central News Agency conducted on Saturday and carried on Sunday.
"It scuttled the DPRK (North Korean)-US financial talks, in particular, holding off the six-party talks for an indefinite period."
A proposed US-North Korean meeting on the financial sanctions did not take place this month, because North Korea wanted to negotiate on the issue while the United States simply wanted to hold a briefing.
The six-party talks involving China, the two Koreas, the United States, Russia and Japan are aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs in exchange for diplomatic and economic benefits and security guarantees.
But a start date for the next session is uncertain amid the latest row.
The US Treasury Department in September told US financial institutions to stop dealing with a Macao bank, Banco Delta Asia, which it accused of being a willing front for North Korean counterfeiting.
A month later the US blacklisted eight North Korean companies allegedly involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea on Tuesday had threatened to boycott the six-way talks unless the United States lifts the financial sanctions.
US ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow on Wednesday dismissed the threat, calling Pyongyang as a "criminal regime" engaged in illegal activities.
A spokesman for North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said Saturday the remarks by Vershbow amounted to a "declaration of war," further dimming the prospect of talks resuming.
After more than two years of negotiations, North Korea agreed in principle at the fourth round of talks in Beijing in September to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
But the latest session ended in stalemate last month, with the North accusing the United States of breaching the September agreement by imposing sanctions on its firms.
Negotiators agreed to resume the talks soon but set no date. South Korea has been pushing for a resumption in January.
The six-way talks began in August 2003 almost a year after the latest nuclear standoff began, when the United States accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment program.
The North has since expelled UN International Atomic Energy Agency arms inspectors and abandoned the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Rodong Sinmun, the North's communist party daily, said Sunday the United States had recently decided to deploy a brand new aircraft carrier off Japan with the "undisguised intention to mount a preemptive nuclear attack" on the country.
The North has said it is developing nuclear weapons for self-defense.
(Chinadaily.com via agencies December 12, 2005)