North Korea cites war in ruling out compromise

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2003

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea on Saturday pointed to the weapons inspections that preceded the war in Iraq as a reason not to compromise in its own standoff with the United States.

Iraq invited its ''miserable fate'' by opening its weapons facilities to U.N. inspectors, the North's main state-run newspaper said. North Korea, it added, will not make the same mistake.

''It is clear that the destiny of Iraq is at stake due to its concession and compromise,'' the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

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North Korea ''would have already met the same miserable fate as Iraq's had it … accepted the demand raised by the imperialists and its followers for nuclear inspection' and disarmament.''

During a visit to Washington on Friday, South Korea's foreign minister urged the United States to launch a bold initiative toward North Korea.

Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected the proposal, saying before Washington will consider any aid programs for the North, Pyongyang first has to end nuclear proliferation activities and other aspects of its military buildup.

Powell spoke to reporters after meeting with Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan. He gave no details of the talks but South Korea's Yonhap news agency said Saturday that Powell promised Yoon that Washington will take ''a different approach to North Korea,'' dismissing the North's allegation that the United States will invade it after Iraq.

North Korea wants direct talks, the United States prefers a multilateral approach in which South Korea, Japan and other countries would be involved in efforts to end the crisis.

The nuclear dispute flared in October when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted having a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 pact.