- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

SEOUL (AP) — North Korea yesterday called Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld a “war servant” and described his trip to South Korea this week as “criminal.”

It also accused Washington of having a “hostile policy” toward the communist nation as Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly discussed the North’s nuclear-weapons program with South Korean officials.

During his visit, Mr. Rumsfeld discussed a realignment of U.S. forces in South Korea. The United States and South Korea agreed in June on the withdrawal of thousands of American troops stationed near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas and their redeployment to bases south of Seoul.

North Korea has accused the United States of planning to pull its troops away from the North’s border to prepare for a pre-emptive attack.

“What is more clear from his visit is that the U.S. has not modified its hostile policy to invade the DPRK [North Korea] at all, but its attempt at aggression has been pushed forward in real earnest,” Rodong Sinmun, the North’s state-run newspaper, said in a commentary.

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

North Korea often issues slanderous statements against U.S. officials and accuses Washington of plotting an attack.

The latest accusations came as Mr. Kelly was on the final leg of an Asian tour to coordinate policy amid efforts to hold another round of the nuclear talks involving the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, China and Russia. He visited Tokyo and Beijing before coming to Seoul.

Mr. Kelly met for two hours with his South Korean counterpart, Assistant Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck. Mr. Kelly and Mr. Lee represented their respective governments at the first six-nation talks in Beijing in August. Officials have said another round might be held next month.

Mr. Lee said discussion included “documented security assurance” for North Korea, one of the communist state’s key conditions for ending its nuclear programs.

Diplomatic efforts to resume the six-nation conference gained speed last month after North Korea agreed “in principle” to return to the negotiating table. Pyongyang also dropped its demand for a nonaggression treaty with Washington, saying it would consider President Bush’s offer for written security assurances from the United States and North Korea’s neighbors.

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