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2009/05/21 11:02 KST

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

North Korea Urges U.S. to Change Policy

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will not come back to the negotiation table unless the United States and South Korea give up their "hostile policy" towards the communist nation, North Korean state media said on May 17.

   "No matter what nonsense the Lee group may say under the clutches of the U.S., the DPRK (North Korea) remains unchanged in its determination and declaration made to protect the dignity and sovereignty of the nation," read a commentary printed by Minju Joson, the newspaper of North Korea's Cabinet, referring to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

   Pyongyang will never again attend the six-party denuclearization talks, it added, but will instead strengthen its nuclear aresenal.

   Following the U.N. Security Council's unanimous condemnation of its April 5 rocket launch, North Korea said it will expand missile and nuclear tests if it does not receive an official apology. It has also threatened to shut down an industrial complex run jointly with South Korea -- the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation achieved by former liberal Seoul governments.

   Relations between the Koreas have remained icy since the election of President Lee, a conservative, early last year. He has taken a hard line on North Korea's nuclear programs and ended the unconditional flow of aid provided under his predecessors.

   Washington has emphasized the importance of the six-party talks, calling on the isolated North to rejoin dialogue and warning that there will be consequences if it conducts a second nuclear test.

   "The present U.S. administration is following the same hostile policy toward the DPRK as enforced by the former administration, while touting 'a change' and 'diplomacy for multilateral cooperation,'" said the article, which was carried by the Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang's official news wire.


Russian Beer Company to Strengthen Ties with N. Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A leading Russian beer company said it will promote cooperation with North Korean companies, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper reported on May 17.

   According to Choson Sinbo, published by an association of Korean residents in Japan, an executive from Russian beer manufacturer Baltika said he plans to work in close partnership with North Korea's breweries, including its Taedong River Beer factory.

   Experts from Taedong River Beer have visited Baltika's breweries to learn about technique on two separate occasions since North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited Russia in 2001, the paper said.

   The Russian company started to export its products to the North in 2007.

   Taedong River Beer, the North's leading beer maker, changed recently the background color of its logo from white to a combination of yellowish green and red this year with help from the design company and under the full support of the state.


North Korea Denounces South Korean Foreign Ministry

SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea on May 18 accused South Korea's foreign ministry of leading a hostile policy toward the socialist state, amid continuing tension between the two Koreas.

   "South Korea's foreign ministry is frantic about its anti-DPRK (North Korea) confrontational scheme,' a spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, said in a statement.

   "It is one of the most anti-national groups among the South Korean government ministries and agencies," the unnamed spokesman claimed.

   Inter-Korean relations have deteriorated since Seoul's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in February last year with a tough policy toward the North, which refuses to abandon its nuclear arms ambitions. An angry North Korea cut off reconciliation talks and all major joint projects - except the Kaesong industrial park - have been suspended.

   Most recently, Pyongyang suggested it may shut down the factory zone in Kaesong, just north of the inter-Korean border, in retaliation for Seoul's "confrontational" stance, by declaring all contracts with South Korea on running the complex invalid.

   The spokesman said the South Korean foreign ministry played a role in the government's support for the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of the North's April 5 rocket launch and plan to join the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative aimed at curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
The North also mentioned Seoul's reported consideration of reporting Pyongyang's detention of a South Korean worker for criticizing its political system to the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

   "South Korea aims to deny dialogue and cooperation, fully cut off North-South relations as well as ignite a war of invasion against the North by disarming us and by making denuclearization a precondition in relations," the spokesman claimed.

   "We, if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is retained, cannot escape from seeing inter-Korean relations deteriorate as well as a war breaks out to make South Korea a sea of fire," the North said.


N. Korean FM Returns Home After Trip to Central, South America

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's foreign minister returned home on May 19, wrapping up a month-long trip to Central and South America, state media said.

   Pak Ui-chun attended the ministerial meeting of the Coordination Bureau of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, a network of nations not aligned with major Western powers, in Cuba on April 29. He also visited Peru and Brazil.

   During the trip, Pak held talks with his counterparts in the three countries -- Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla of Cuba on May 4, Jose Garcia Belaunde of Peru on May 7 and Celso Luis Nunes Amorim of Brazil on May 11.

   "Both sides discussed the matter of further developing the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and exchanged views on the international issues of mutual concern," the North's Korean Central News Agency briefly reported on each meeting. Further details of the talks were not given.

   Pak is expected to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum to be held in Thailand in July.