Image: South Korean Soldier Watches A North Korean Soldier At Panmunjom
A South Korean soldier watches a North Korean soldier, left, standing guard at the truce village of Panmunjom, 34 miles north of Seoul, on Wednesday.
The Associated Press
updated 2/17/2004 1:13:43 PM ET 2004-02-17T18:13:43

North Korea said on Tuesday it would not allow Japan to take part in any future multilateral talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, but Japan said it would not accept the notion Pyongyang could decide who attends.

A statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, published by the official KCNA news agency, said Japan had linked other bilateral problems to the talks, such as the past abduction by North Korea of Japanese nationals.

Japan joined China, Russia, South Korea and the United States in an inconclusive first round of nuclear talks with North Korea in Beijing in late August. The North has since said it is not interested in more talks on a crisis which erupted a year ago.

“A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry said in a statement today that the DPRK would not allow Japan to participate in any form of negotiations for the settlement of the nuclear issue in the future,” KCNA said.

DPRK are the initials of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The nuclear issue is not a bilateral issue between Japan and North Korea, but is of serious consequence to the region and the international community,” Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima told Reuters.

“We do not accept any notion that a certain country in the six-party talks can be banned by any other party. The six-party talks are formed with the participation of those countries that are gravely concerned with the issue.”

The North Korean statement said Japan’s leaders had the “black-hearted intention” of using the talks to try to bolster the Japanese economy and their own political positions.

“Japan is nothing but an obstacle to the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S.,” said the statement. “It has lost its qualification to be a trustworthy dialogue partner.”

The North’s statement implied there was the possibility of further multilateral talks — a significant shift from its earlier stated intention of avoiding more negotiations.

The leaders of Japan, South Korea and China are in the Indonesian resort of Bali for a summit of Southeast Asian countries and their main regional partners. North Korea is one of the topics on their agenda.

© 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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