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N. Korea blasts Australian FM over 'slander' of Kim Jong-un

2014/06/22 19:20

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea hinted Sunday it would "punish" Australia's foreign minister for allegedly hurting the dignity of its young leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry also condemned Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as "no more than a stooge carrying out the U.S. hostile policy toward" the North.

North Korea "will never pardon but resolutely punish anyone who dares slander the dignity of its supreme leadership," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, without elaborating on what punishment would entail.

The comments carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency came a day after a U.S. radio station reported Bishop's recent telephone interview critical of the North Korean leader and his pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"We have very serious concerns with the policies that Kim Jong-un is adopting," Bishop said in the interview posted on the website of the Korean service of Washington-based Voice of America. "Well, he can hardly claim the legitimacy as a leader when his regime continues to defy international expectations."

   She also called on Kim to abandon nuclear weapons and respect human rights of North Koreans, according to the report.

North Korea has indicated it has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons programs as it views them as a deterrent against what it claims is Washington's hostile policy against it.

The North has bristled at any outside criticism of its leader, but it is rare for the North to publicly criticize Australia's top diplomat.

North Korea has made several military threats against South Korea over its alleged slander of its leader in recent years, although it has yet to follow through on its words.