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2009/05/14 10:55 KST

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea Says There Will Be No Talks with S. Korean Government

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on May 9 that there is no chance of any serious dialogue between the two Koreas because of what it claimed was an anti-North Korea campaign by Seoul's Lee Myung-bak administration.

   "There simply is no need to even consider holding talks between the North and the South while the Lee Myung-bak group is publicly trying to smear the name of our republic," a spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   The statement comes amid reports that Seoul and Pyongyang are trying to set a date for talks, possibly next week. The talks will be a follow-up to a meeting held in the North's border town of Kaesong on April 21 over a joint industrial park there.

   An official at Seoul's Unification Ministry said the statement will not affect the upcoming talks between the divided Koreas.

   "I believe the Kaesong meeting will be dealt with separately from other inter-Korean talks mentioned in the statement because the meeting comes at the North's request," the official said, asking not to be identified.

   Seoul is hoping the upcoming talks will help win the release of a South Korean worker detained by the communist North on March 30. The South Korean, an engineer from Hyundai Asan, the South Korean developer and operator of the Kaesong industrial complex, has been accused of criticizing the North's communist regime and trying to incite a female North Korean worker in Kaesong to defect to the South.

   The unidentified spokesman for the North Korean committee claimed Seoul was stepping up its anti-North Korea campaign by raising human rights issues he claimed did not even exist.

   "The committee strongly denounces the Lee Myung-bak group's anti-DPRK campaign as a serious, unacceptable political provocation," the statement said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

   "The only outcome the Lee Myung-bak group will ever get from confrontation with the DPRK is a miserable end," it added.


North Korea's Titular Head Meets President of Singapore

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, met with Singaporean President Sellapan Rama Nathan and discussed ways to bolster friendly relations between the two countries, Pyongyang's state media said on May 8.

   Kim arrived in Singapore on May 6 on his way to South Africa, where he is scheduled to attend the inauguration of President-elect Jacob Zuma on May 9.

   "The two sides exchanged their opinions with regard to ways of further developing friendly relations between the two countries and other issues of mutual concern," the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station, a state-run radio, said of the talks held on May 7.

   Kim, 81, represents North Korea on state visits and summits and receives visiting heads of state as the country's titular head. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, 67, rarely travels abroad.

   The trip will also take Kim to Zimbabwe, the broadcast said earlier, without specifying the purpose of the visit. His entourage includes Ri Ryong-nam, minister of foreign trade, and Kim Hyong-jun, vice minister of foreign affairs, it said.


North Korea's No. 2 Man Makes Visit to South Africa, Zimbabwe

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam visited South Africa and Zimbabwe for talks with presidents of the two African nations.

   Kim arrived in South Africa May 8 and attended the inauguration ceremony of President Jacob Zuma the following day, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   The 81-year-old president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly earlier held talks with Singapore's President Sellapan Ramanathan Nathan during his short stop in the Southeast Asian nation while en route to Africa.

   In Johannesburg, Kim had a summit with the new South African president on May 10, the KCNA said.

   The two leaders exchanged opinions on expanding friendly and cooperative ties between their countries to include various other fields and issues of mutual interest, the North said.

   On May 11, Kim flew into Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe for talks with the country's president Robert Mugabe.

   The KCNA said the following day that Kim and Mugabe discussed how to develop the old friendly ties between the two countries and other issues of mutual concern.

   The media, however, did not provide further details of the two summit talks.

   After the summit, Kim attended a banquet hosted by the Zimbabwean leader.

   "The DPRK (North Korea) and Zimbabwe are far away from each other geographically but they forged close ties of friendship long ago and have developed cooperative relations," Kim was quoted by the KCNA as saying in his speech.

   He stressed his country will make positive efforts to boost the traditional relations of friendship and cooperation in various fields between the two countries in the future, the report said.

   Pyongyang officials accompanying Kim during the African trip included Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong-nam, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Hyong-jun, according to the North's state media.


Pro-Pyongyang Daily Calls for U.S. Change of Attitude

SEOUL (Yonhap) - A pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on May 11 the U.S. government should rectify its confrontational stance toward Pyongyang to resume dialogue with the socialist state.

   North Korea's foreign ministry on May 8 accused the Obama administration of being "hostile" toward it and vowed to bolster its nuclear deterrent as Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, was to arrive in Seoul for discussions on ways to reactivate stalled six-party denuclearization talks.

   "North Korea will be able to reopen dialogue, whether bilateral or multilateral, only on condition that the North recognizes U.S. willingness to remove the old confrontational relationship between the two nations," Choson Sinbo, a daily of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said.

   The editorial echoed the North's position, saying nothing can be expected from possible negotiations with the U.S. as long as it remains hostile to the dialogue partner. The end result of current U.S. policy will be a second nuclear test by the North, the newspaper warned.

   On May 4, the North's foreign ministry said the Obama administration is no different from its predecessor, led by President George W. Bush, citing Washington's leading role in pressing for the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of Pyongyang's April 5 rocket launch.

   North Korea has threatened to test nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missiles unless the U.N. Security Council apologizes for rebuking its rocket launch. Pyongyang says the launch was aimed to send its communications satellite into orbit but regional powers view the move as a disguised long-range missile test.


North Korea Claims Weapons Are Nuclear Deterrent

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea reiterated on May 12 that its nuclear weapons are for deterrence purposes and that they are "entirely just," citing a recent comment by the top U.S. military chief in South Korea on Washington's commitment to provide a nuclear umbrella for Seoul.

   "Walter Sharp, commander of the U.S. forces in south Korea (sic), recently blustered that the U.S. would be firmly committed to providing a nuclear umbrella to south Korea, asserting that the 'U.S.-south Korea Mutual Defense Treaty' would remain valid even after the transfer of the 'right to command wartime operations' to south Korea," the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

   U.S. pressure on the DPRK (North Korea) to dismantle its nukes while simultaneously talking about the "provision of a nuclear umbrella to south Korea," is tantamount to forcing it to lay down its arms, the KCNA said.

   Rodong Sinmun, newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, made a similar claim on May 5.

   "It was entirely just for the DPRK to have acquired a nuclear deterrent for self-defence to cope with the ever-more undisguised moves of the U.S. for a nuclear war," said the KCNA.

   The claim comes amid the North's threats to conduct another nuclear test and quit the six-party disarmament talks, which also involve the U.S., South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.