North Korea

North Korea plays hardball on resuming talks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2006, 12:00am


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Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will make a last-ditch bid today to get his North Korean counterpart to talks on restarting stalled negotiations over Pyongyang's nuclear programme. North Korean officials arrived in Kuala Lumpur last night for today's Asean regional security forum, insisting they would not be joining any six-way talks.

'There will be no six-party meeting,' said Jong Song-il, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun. 'If the Americans want to see the six-party talks quickly, then go tell them quickly to remove financial sanctions,' Mr Jong said, referring to US-led action last September to freeze bank accounts in Macau. North Korea pulled out of the talks soon after. The annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations' security forum in Kuala Lumpur has provided a rare diplomatic opportunity to get North Korea back to the table. The forum involves the foreign ministers of all six players - North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US, and other regional powers such as India. It comes three weeks after Pyongyang test-fired seven missiles.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso emerged from a meeting with Mr Li yesterday saying he supported six-way talks in Kuala Lumpur.