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2008/06/12 10:55 KST

   *** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 1)

Pyongyang Releases Statement Opposing 'All Forms of Terrorism'

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 10 reasserted its commitment to international efforts to combat terrorism, apparently to expedite the U.S. removal of the communist country from its list of terrorism-sponsoring states. In a statement, the North's Foreign Ministry said the country will firmly maintain its opposition to all forms of terrorism and also keep nonproliferation pledges it made at the nuclear talks. The statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also vowed to help prevent terrorists from using biological or chemical weapons.

   "Upon the authorization of the government, the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarifies that the DPRK will firmly maintain its consistent stand of opposing all forms of terrorism and any support to it and fulfill its responsibility and duty in the struggle against terrorism as a dignified member of the United Nations, in the future," the ministry said. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

   The statement said it will "take active part in the international efforts to prevent substance, equipment and technology to be used for the production of nukes and biochemical and radioactive weapons from finding their ways to the terrorists and the organizations that support them."

   Analysts said the North's latest move is a sign of its determination to be removed from Washington's terrorism list. The removal is one of the major incentives offered at the six-party talks in exchange for North Korea's steps toward denuclearization.

   The U.S. is expected to take initial steps to remove the North from the list as soon as Pyongyang submits a declaration of all its nuclear programs as promised under a six-party deal.

   The statement came after Sung Kim, director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Korean Affairs, traveled by land on June 10 from South Korea to the North for two days of talks to discuss North Korea's disablement of its nuclear facilities.

   In an agreement at the six-party talks on Oct. 3 last year, North Korea was required to disable its key nuclear facilities and declare all its nuclear programs by the end of last year in exchange for the removal and other political and economic rewards. But the North missed the deadline, insisting that the U.S. reneged on its commitment to remove the country from the terrorism list.

   The removal has been delayed as Washington and Pyongyang remain locked in a dispute over the content of North Korea's declaration of its nuclear activities. The North was put on the list after its agents were found to have bombed a South Korean airliner in 1987, killing all 115 people on board.

   "The DPRK fully supports the international community in its efforts to establish an international legal mechanism to combat terrorism and will actively cooperate with it in taking effective measures for it," the statement said.

   Before heading for Pyongyang, Sung Kim said he will discuss how to deal with the more than 2,000 unused fuel rods from North Korea's nuclear reactor in Yongbyon and other measures to advance the six-party denuclearization talks.

   North Korea handed over to the United States over 18,000 pages of documents on its plutonium production at its Yongbyon nuclear complex during Kim's last visit to the communist state in May. American experts are combing through the records to glean information on exactly how much of the material North Korea has made.

   The United States welcomed North Korea's commitment to anti-terrorism efforts but said the communist state has to do more to be removed from the list. "We certainly welcome the statement," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, adding the anti-terrorism commitment is part of the "process to remove North Korea from the blacklist."

   McCormack said, however, "We have not made any final steps with respect to North Korea," He added that "They're currently on the state sponsor of terrorists list, and at the moment, North Korea still has several obligations under this phase of the six-party talks that it needs to complete before other members of the six-party talks can contemplate completing their obligations."