North Korea says talks with U.S. are pointless

By Martin Nesirky SEOUL, Reuters

North Korea described U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday as a tyrannical political imbecile who put Adolf Hitler in the shade and said Pyongyang could see no justification for talks with his administration.

Six-party working-level talks on the communist North’s nuclear weapons ambitions had been planned for August but have yet to materialize.

The September date for more senior talks is also in question, although diplomats note Pyongyang often raises its rhetorical voice before attending talks or compromising.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Monday its top nuclear negotiators would visit Beijing and Tokyo this week for consultations aimed at restarting the main talks.

In a strongly worded statement published by the official KCNA news agency, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said Bush had hurled “malignant slanders and calumnies” against Pyongyang’s leadership under Kim Jong-il.

“This clearly proves that the DPRK was quite right when it commented that he is a political imbecile bereft of even elementary morality as a human being and a bad guy, much less being a politician,” the spokesman said. “Bush is a tyrant that puts Hitler into the shade.”

DPRK is short for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Bush said in a presidential election campaign speech last Wednesday in Hudson, Wisconsin, he had made the decision to bring in other countries to help persuade the North to disarm.

“I felt it was important to bring other countries into the mix, like China and Japan and South Korea and Russia, so there’s now five countries saying to the tyrant in North Korea, disarm, disarm,” he said.

The North Korean spokesman said it had been impossible to hold working-level talks between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States because of what he called hostile U.S. policy.

He said the latest comments had made matters worse.

“This made it quite impossible for the DPRK to go to the talks and deprived it of any elementary justification to sit at the negotiating table with the U.S.,” he said.

Some North Korea analysts say the bluster masks Pyongyang’s true aim; to bide its time until it is clear whether Bush or Democrat challenger John Kerry is elected in November’s presidential election.

Seoul will try to seek out enough common ground in the negotiations to try to bring the countries back to the table this week through consultations with China — the North’s most trusted ally — and Japan.

Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck will meet his new counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, in China on Tuesday and Japan’s top negotiator, foreign ministry director general Mitoji Yabunaka, in Japan on Thursday, a Seoul official said. (Related story on page 2)