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N. Korea threatens 'sacred war' over US-South drill
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Feb 25, 2012

N. Korea nuclear talks restart far off: US envoy
Seoul (AFP) Feb 25, 2012 - A US diplomat said Saturday talks with North Korea aimed at restarting six-party negotiations on the country's nuclear programmes are unlikely to produce a breakthrough in the near future.

Glyn Davies, coordinator for United States policy on North Korea, said there was still a "long way" to go before the six-party talks could resume.

Davies was speaking in Seoul where he arrived Saturday to brief South Korean officials on two days of discussions with North Korean diplomats in Beijing.

In the Chinese capital he had said he had seen "a little bit of progress" but no breakthrough.

Asked about the prospect of the six-party talks resuming, Davies was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying: "We are so long away from anything like that."

The forum is chaired by China, and brings together the US and the two Koreas, along with Russia and Japan.

North Korea abandoned the six-nation talks in April 2009 in protest at US "hostility," and conducted its second nuclear test the following month, sparking international condemnation and tougher sanctions.

Washington has been exploring a resumption of the negotiations but insists Pyongyang take steps to shut down its uranium enrichment facilities and ease tensions with Seoul before restarting the multilateral forum.

Pyongyang has said it wants to return to the six-party talks, albeit without any preconditions.

Davies said he will meet his South Korean counterpart Lim Sung-Nam and Kim Tae-Hyo, South Korea's deputy national security adviser, to discuss the meeting in Beijing and "talk about the way forward".

He did not give any details of what progress had been made in the talks on Thursday and Friday with North Korea's veteran nuclear envoy Kim Kye-Gwan. He was due to give a press conference later Saturday.

The meeting in Beijing were the third since July, and had originally been set for December but were postponed because of the death of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il and the subsequent transition of power to his son Jong-Un.

Kim Jong-Un's plans remain unclear and Davies said in Beijing that Washington and Pyongyang had not agreed on further meetings.

China, North Korea's closest ally, has repeatedly urged a resumption of the six-party talks.

North Korea on Saturday threatened a "sacred war" over US-South Korean joint military drills next week as a US envoy urged Pyongyang's new leadership to engage in dialogue with the outside world.

The North's National Defence Commission (NDC) denounced the annual joint exercises as a "silent declaration of war," describing them as "unpardonable war hysteria."

Key Resolve, a computerised command post exercise, will start on Monday and continue until March 9. Separately, the joint air, ground and naval field training exercise Foal Eagle will be held from March 1 to April 30.

"Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are unpardonable war hysteria kicked up by the hooligans to desecrate our mourning period and an unpardonable infringement upon our sovereignty and dignity," the NDC said in a statement.

"Our army and people will foil the moves of the group of traitors to the nation and warmongers at home and abroad for a new war with a sacred war of our own style," the NDC said, indicating it would stage a counter exercise.

The threat is the latest instance of Pyongyang taking a hostile tone towards Seoul since Kim Jong-Un, the youngest son of the late leader Kim Jong-Il, took over after his father Kim Jong-Il died of a heart attack on December 17.

Last week the North vowed "merciless retaliatory strikes" if any shells landed in waters claimed by Pyongyang during a live-fire artillery exercise near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

But in the event it took no military action in response to the drill.

"War manoeuvres... are, in essence, a silent declaration of a war. The declaration of the war is bound to be accompanied by a corresponding physical retaliation," the NDC said Saturday.

"Now that a war has been declared against us, the army and people are firmly determined to counter it with a sacred war of our own style and protect the security of the nation and the peace of the country," it added.

It accused "US imperialists" of intensifying moves to ignite a war, and implied that the North had the capacity to strike against the US mainland.

"Nuclear weapons are not the monopoly of the US. We have war means more powerful than the US nukes and ultra-modern striking equipment which no one has ever possessed," it said.

"The US is sadly mistaken if it thinks it is safe as its mainland is far away across the ocean. There is no limit to the striking intensity and range of our army and people to wipe out the aggressors."

Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Dongguk University in Seoul said the North's statement was aimed at increasing pressure on the US and South Korea over the exercise, while at the same time seeking solidarity among its own people.

"However, it is unlikely for the North to commit militarily provocative actions as it needs to push forward with dialogue with the United States," he told AFP.

US and North Korean officials this month resumed negotiations aimed at reopening six-party talks on dismantling the North's nuclear programme in return for diplomatic and economic gains.

Pyongyang walked out of the process -- which is chaired by China and also brings together the two Koreas, the US, Russia and Japan -- in 2009 before carrying out a second nuclear test, but now wants to return, albeit without preconditions.

Glyn Davies, coordinator for United States policy on North Korea, said in Seoul it was "significant" that the North decided to reengage in talks "in a relatively short period of time after the change of leadership" in the North.

"We hope and we expect that the DPRK (North Korea) will choose to go down the path for a greater engagement and indeed ultimately a greater cooperation," he told journalists after briefing South Koreans on two days of discussions with North Korean diplomats in Beijing.

Earlier in Seoul, he said there was still a "long way" to go before the six-party talks could resume.

Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies said Pyongyang was seeking to add an element of urgency to the discussions about the six-party talks.

"Basically, it is telling the United States, 'You'd better not miss this opportunity'. Otherwise, we will further build up our nuclear deterrence including ICBMs," Yang said, referring to intercontinental ballistic missiles.


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US, N. Korea talks end with little progress
Beijing (AFP) Feb 24, 2012
A US diplomat said Friday some progress had been made in the first talks between the United States and North Korea since the death of Kim Jong-Il, but there were no breakthroughs. Glyn Davies, coordinator for US policy on North Korea, said he had a "better understanding" of North Korea's position on the country's controversial nuclear programme, but they had not achieved any "dramatic result ... read more

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