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Pyongyang Hits Back at US Pressure
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North Korea's State media praised the country's leader Sunday for standing up to its enemies a day after the army's chief of staff vowed to take action against US sanctions after the latest round of nuclear disarmament talks ended in deadlock.

In a lengthy editorial, Rodong Sinmun newspaper lauded Kim Jong-il for his "iron-like pluck and grit" and for trying to build a powerful military that no enemy would dare confront.

The newspaper also said North Korea displayed its determination to "mercilessly punish aggressors trying to pick a fight with us" a possible reference to the harsh international reaction to its October 9 nuclear test.

On Saturday, army chief of staff Kim Yong-chun accused the United States of demanding that North Korea unilaterally end its nuclear program while refusing to lift financial restrictions the US has imposed on the government.

The nuclear talks held in Beijing last week after a 13-month break due to a North Korea boycott over the US sanctions ended on Friday without an agreement to move ahead on nuclear disarmament.

Negotiators said North Korea has refused to talk about its nuclear weapons program until the US lifts financial restrictions.

North Korea nuclear envoy Kim Kye-gwan said on Friday that his country planned to bolster its atomic arsenal in response to US pressure.

"The US is taking a tactic of both dialogue and pressure, and carrots and sticks," Kim told reporters in Beijing.

"We are responding with dialogue and a shield, and by a shield we are saying we will further improve our deterrent."

The US and North Korea held financial talks on the sidelines of last week's Six-Party Talks and are considering another round in the week starting on January 22 in New York, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

(China Daily December 25, 2006)

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