• Pyongyang ‘rules out’ nuclear talks resumption

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    BEIJING: North Korea has “no thoughts” of resuming six-party talks on its nuclear program, a top Pyongyang official said on Thursday in Beijing, despite the repeated urgings of its closest ally China.

    The North quit the now-stalled negotiations aimed at curbing its nuclear weapons programmed in 2009, and soon afterwards carried out its second atomic test. The talks are hosted by China, and include South Korea, the United States, Russia, and Japan.

    Beijing, the North’s main diplomatic protector and economic benefactor, wants to revive negotiations, although Washington, Seoul and Tokyo all insist Pyongyang—which carried out two missile launches earlier this week—must first take some tangible steps towards denuclearization.

    Choe Son-Hui, deputy director-general of the North American affairs bureau in Pyongyang’s foreign ministry, said in Beijing: “For now, we have no thoughts about taking part in talks to discuss the DPRK’s denuclearization.”

    She was in the Chinese capital for an annual security forum, which includes representatives from each of the six parties.

    “Under these circumstances where the US hostile policy is still there, DPRK is not in a position to talk about denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” she told reporters in English outside the country’s embassy, using its official name.

    Ties between China and the North have become strained in recent years as Pyongyang has pressed ahead with internationally-condemned nuclear tests, and with Kim Jong-Un yet to visit Beijing three years after inheriting power.

    After a string of failures in recent months, North Korea successfully tested two powerful Musudan medium-range missiles on Wednesday, one of which flew 400 kilometers (250 miles) into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

    Existing United Nations measures prohibit North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.

    After Pyongyang conducted a fourth nuclear test on January 6, followed by a long-range rocket launch on February 7, the UN Security Council adopted its most punishing sanctions yet against North Korea.

    Any further measures would require the support of veto-wielding permanent council member China, which has shied away from additional action in favor of calls for resuming the six-party talks.

    “We are not at all disappointed by the Chinese,” Choe said, denying that Pyongyang felt a lack of support from its neighbor. “China is doing what she has to do, and we are doing what we have to do.”

    AFP

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