Sanctions threaten Asia: North
HANOI - North Korea lashed out at Washington’s announcement of fresh sanctions to blame Pyongyang for the sinking of a South Korean warship, and said a massive military exercise planned for next month threatens peace in all of Asia.
Addressing journalists covering the Asean Regional Forum here, Ri Tong-il, a spokesman for the North’s delegation, said the sanctions announced Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Seoul violate the July 9 UN Security Council statement about the March sinking of the Cheonan, in which 46 sailors died. While the council deplored the attack that sank the ship, it did not name North Korea as the attacker. Pyongyang vehemently denies responsibility.
“The new sanctions are in violation of the statement, which encourages the settlement of issues on the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means to resume direct dialogue and negotiation,” said Ri, who is in charge of the disarmament bureau at the North’s Foreign Ministry.
Ri also complained about an upcoming U.S.-South Korea joint naval exercise, scheduled to take place next month in the East Sea as a reaction to the sinking of the Cheonan.
“It will not only pose a grave threat to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, but also of the region,” said Ri.
Ri also said Pyongyang will return to the six-party talks (with China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.) on shutting down its nuclear weapons program when it is assured of equal respect and all concerned parties exert their best efforts.
Ri’s brief encounter with reporters occurred after bilateral talks between the foreign ministers of North Korea and China.
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton arrived here yesterday. They are scheduled to attend the foreign ministerial meeting today.
By Lee Young-jong, Ser Myo-ja [email@example.com]