SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea said Saturday it wants Japan out of six-party disarmament talks, calling officials in Tokyo “political imbeciles” for saying they will not accept Pyongyang as a nuclear power.

Meanwhile, the North’s leader Kim Jong Il made his first public military visit since the Oct. 9 test, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported late Friday. He visited an army unit but it was not clear from the report when it took place.

The North agreed earlier this week to return to the international disarmament negotiations – which also include China, Russia, the U.S. and South Korea – in the first relaxation of tension after its Oct. 9 nuclear test. The talks have been stalled for a year.

A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday said “there is no need for Japan to participate in (the talks) as a local delegate because it is no more than a state of the U.S. and it is enough for Tokyo just to be informed of the results of the talks by Washington.”

Japan is a common target for the North’s hostile rhetoric, stemming from Tokyo’s imperial occupation of the Korean peninsula in the early 20th century. Pyongyang has called before for Japan to be excluded from the nuclear talks.

The talks have been on hold since November 2005, with Pyongyang refusing to attend because of a U.S. campaign to cut off its access to international banks due to alleged illegal activity such as counterfeiting and money laundering.

The Foreign Ministry said most of the international community had welcomed North Korea’s return to the talks.

“But it is only Japan that expressed its wicked intention,” the ministry said, referring to comments by Tokyo that it will not accept a nuclear North Korea. “The Japanese authorities have thus clearly proved themselves that they are political imbeciles,” it added. The statement was carried on KCNA.

The statement came after North Korea’s No. 2 leader said any progress at the revived talks on the communist nation’s nuclear program will depend on the United States, an indication that any breakthrough at the negotiations could be difficult.

“Results of the six-party talks depend on the U.S. attitude,” Kim Yong Nam told a visiting South Korean delegation in Pyongyang, Yonhap news agency reported Friday.

Kim accused the U.S. of seeking the resumed nuclear talks to bolster the Republicans’ popularity ahead of U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday, casting doubts on Washington’s sincerity in resolving “fundamental problems between North Korea and the U.S.”

Kim’s comments, made in a meeting with members of South Korea’s minor opposition Democratic Labor Party, could not be immediately confirmed by the party headquarters in Seoul.

The North Korean official claimed it was Pyongyang that proposed returning to the negotiations as a way for the U.S. to save face and not appear to be caving in to the North’s demand that the financial issue be discussed.

That account contradicts U.S. statements that diplomacy by China, the North’s last major ally, had been instrumental in luring the North back to the nuclear talks.

KCNA reported that Kim visited the North’s Korean People’s Army Unit 1112, inspected the barracks and took photographs with the soldiers there.

It was the first report in official media on Kim’s activities since the North agreed to return to the six-nation nuclear talks.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.