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North Korea Douses U.S. Offer of Talks

January 16, 2003|From Times Wire Services

SEOUL — North Korea poured cold water Wednesday on U.S. offers of talks and possible aid if it abandons its nuclear ambitions, accusing Washington of staging a "deceptive drama" to mislead world opinion.

Keeping up a stream of anti-American invective -- even as it agreed to more high-level meetings with South Korea next week -- Pyongyang declared it would accept no U.S. offer of dialogue with conditions attached. It said the U.S. was in effect demanding a complete surrender before engaging in substantive talks.

Washington's "loudmouthed supply of energy and food aid are like a painted cake pie in the sky, as they are possible only after [North Korea] is totally disarmed," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a report by the country's news agency, KCNA.

"What we heard from the U.S. side was simple words.... The U.S. had nothing to say about the resumption of dialogue," the statement added. "Nobody will be taken in by any tricks employed by the Bush administration."

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer dismissed the statement as unhelpful bluster. "That's an additional unfortunate statement that North Korea has made," he said.

However, the North did appear to leave the door open to talks.

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