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2008/07/10 10:38 KST

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

Pyongyang Slams Seoul for Marking Anniversary of Skirmish

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on July 3 denounced the South Korean government for recently holding an official ceremony marking the anniversary of an inter-Korean naval battle in 2002, describing the event as a "political provocation on purpose" against the North.

   The denouncement came in a statement by the Committee of the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a North Korean organization dealing with the South.

   The committee on July 3 said in its Secretariat's report that the ceremony on June 29 to mark the sixth anniversary of the skirmish in the West Sea, which was attended by the South's prime minister for the first time, was aimed at arousing enmity towards the North. The report was carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency.

   In a message to mark the anniversary, called "the Second Yeonpyeong Naval Battle," the prime minister described it as a "victory" for the South against the North's provocative attack that left six South Korean soldiers killed, while the North's losses remain unconfirmed.

   The South's previous liberal governments had officially labelled the tragic incident an "accidental exchange of gunfire" in an apparent bid to maintain inter-Korean reconciliation.

   However, the conservative government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who came to power in February, pledged to correct faults in inter-Korean relations in the past, and ties soured with Pyongyang.

   The committee claimed "the West incident" was initiated by the United States and South Korean warmongers against the trend of inter-Korean rapprochement, calling the South's government an anti-unification force.


N.K. Urges Negotiating Partners to Fulfill Obligations under Nuclear Deal

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on July 4 it will only move onto the next stage of its nuclear disarmament under a multilateral deal after its five negotiating partners provide oil shipments promised under the agreement, accusing those parties of not acting quickly enough.

   "The implementation of the October 3 agreement can be wrapped up and discussions on the next stage will be made smoothly only when all participating countries accurately fulfill their duties under the deal," the North's Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement.

   "That's the basic demand of the 'action-for-action' principle and our consistent position," the spokesman said.

   Under the accord signed with the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan, the North had agreed to disable its main nuclear facilities and disclose all of its nuclear programs by the end of last year in return for political and economic rewards.

   Pyongyang began disabling its key nuclear plants in November but has slowed down the disablement work since early this year, accusing its negotiating partners of being slow in shipping one million tons of heavy oil and energy-related equipment to North Korea as part of the rewards.

   The spokesman claimed Pyongyang has carried out more than 80 percent of the disablement of its key nuclear facilities but the five other parties fulfilled only 40 percent of their requirements under the deal.

   The statement came a week after North Korea destroyed the cooling tower of its main nuclear complex, located north of Pyongyang, in response to Washington's lifting of some trade sanctions imposed on Pyongyang under the Trading with the Enemy Act and its decision to remove the communist nation from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

   The destruction was a "goodwill gesture demonstrating" North Korea's commitment toward denuclearization, the spokesman said.

   The six-party talks were expected to resume as early as the first week of July to discuss ways of verifying the declaration and dismantling the North's nuclear program.

   But the statement dimmed the prospects for an early resumption of the talks, with some analysts saying the North's complaint on the slow provision of energy aid may be a cause of the delay.

   "We are ready to cooperate in verifying the nuclear declaration but will stick to the basic principle that the 'action-for-action' principle must be abided by," the spokesman said.


N. Korea's Nuclear Envoy Arrives in Beijing to Resume Nuke Talks

BEIJING (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top nuclear envoy arrived in Beijing on July 8 to attend a new round of six-way talks on his country's atomic weapons program.

   Kim Kye-gwan gave no comments to reporters and camera crews waiting for him at the international airport in the Chinese capital.

   His trip comes ahead of the resumption of the six-way talks, which also involve South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan.

   Top South Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Sook said earlier in the day that a new round of the Beijing-based talks will start on July 10.

   "The chief delegates of the six-party talks will meet for the first time in nine months," he told reporters just before heading to Beijing.

   High on the agenda will be appraisal of the North's recent declaration of its nuclear activity and the establishment of a verification mechanism, as well as the setting of a date for the agreed-upon meeting of foreign ministers from the six nations, he added.

   The resumption of the negotiations has been widely expected since Pyongyang submitted the declaration of its nuclear activity late last month.

   As a reward, the U.S. has begun the process of removing the communist nation from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

   North Korea also recently demolished the cooling tower at its main nuclear site in Yongbyon, about 90km north of Pyongyang.


N. Korea Calls on Seoul to Clarify Stance on Summit Accords

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- In an unusually quick reaction to a comment by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that he is willing to meet North Korea's leader, the North called on Lee on July 8 to clarify his position on two inter-Korean summit accords before talking about such a meeting.

   The North called the remarks "preposterous" and claimed there cannot be a summit with a leader who behaves rudely to "overturn" inter-Korean agreements signed by his predecessors.
"Lee Myung-bak totally negated and ignored the summit meetings and declarations which were unanimously hailed and supported by the whole nation and the world," a spokesman for the North's Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland told the country's official Korea Central News Agency.

   "It is preposterous, therefore, for him to talk about the summit talks," said the spokesman for the quasi-governmental body in charge of relations with the South.

   He was reacting to Lee's comments in Monday's interview with Japan's Kyodo News that he would meet Kim Jong-il at any time if it will help end the North's nuclear programs.

   The Koreas agreed to work together for peace and reconciliation on the peninsula and expand cross-border cooperation programs in the two accords in 2000 and 2007.

   Inter-Korean relations turned sour, however, after the conservative South Korean president took office in late February with a tougher stance toward Pyongyang.

   North Korea has since launched tirades against Lee, calling on Seoul to vow to respect the summit accords signed by North Korean leader Kim and the two previous South Korean presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.

   "It is absolutely intolerable to overturn the north-south declarations on account of the change of power as it is a rude behavior betraying the lack of any elementary morality and a blatant act of chilling the desire of the whole nation," the spokesman said.

   "It is quite clear that it is impossible to sit at the negotiating table with such man," he added.

   The North earlier spurned Lee's offer of dialogue to discuss establishing liaison offices in each other's capitals.

   Lee should "clarify his stand towards the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration before talking about the summit talks," the spokesman stressed.

   South Korea's Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong said last week Seoul has never denied or ignored the summit accords but that they are just part of many past agreements between the two Koreas. He urged Pyongyang to come back to the dialogue table as soon as possible to discuss how to implement them.