updated 3/16/2005 4:31:01 AM ET 2005-03-16T09:31:01

North Korea on Wednesday blamed Washington for the deadlock in international talks aimed at convincing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions, and called for the immediate withdrawal of a U.S. aircraft carrier docked in the South for joint military exercises.

“The U.S. is entirely to blame for the failure to resume the six-party talks and the grave obstacle laid in the way of the solution of the nuclear issue,” an unnamed spokesman from the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice travels to South Korea this weekend for consultations with President Roh Moo-hyun and other top officials on the two-year-old nuclear crisis. North Korea claimed last month that it has nuclear weapons and that it would indefinitely boycott the talks because of Washington’s alleged hostile policies against the regime.

As part of the U.S. military presence in South Korea dating to the 1950-53 Korean War, American and South Korean troops are conducting joint exercises this week with air, sea and land forces. The USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier arrived Monday in the southern port city of Busan to take part in the drills, which U.S. officials have said are to practice defending against “external aggression.”

Calls for aircraft carrier to be removed
On Wednesday, the North Korean spokesman called for the aircraft carrier to be immediately withdrawn.

“Leveling a gun at its dialogue partner in the wake of anchoring the aircraft flotilla at South Korean ports, the U.S. is crying for the six-party talks and trying to force (North Korea) to ’abandon its nuclear program,”’ the spokesman said. “Such (a) high-handed and arrogant act fully reveals the aggressive colors of the Bush administration seeking to disarm the (North) and vanquish it.”

American officials have insisted that they don’t intend to attack North Korea, though Rice has refused to apologize for labeling the North one of the world’s “outposts of tyranny,” a comment that angered the North.

On Wednesday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry suggested it wouldn’t return to the disarmament talks until Rice takes back her statement.

“It is illogical to define a dialogue partner as a tyrannical regime and demand talks without withdrawing the remark. This is like saying they don’t want the six-party talks,” an unnamed ministry spokesman told KCNA, as monitored by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. “It is very natural for us to continue increasing our nuclear arsenal for self-defense when Rice has made clear the hostile U.S. policy that it will not coexist with us and continue isolating and pressuring us.”

Rice told reporters Tuesday that the United States maintains its policy of finding a solution to the nuclear crisis in the six-nation disarmament talks — also including China, Japan, Russia and South Korea — and will refuse direct talks with the North as it has repeatedly demanded.

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