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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 46 (March 19, 2009)

All Headlines 10:36 March 19, 2009

*** NEWS BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea Joins International Space Treaties: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on March 12 that it has recently joined international treaties on space exploration, as the country continued preparations to launch what it claims is a satellite.

North Korea has recently become a member of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, and another treaty on space development, said the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea's "membership to [sic] international space treaties will contribute to strengthening international trust and cooperation in its peaceful space research and its satellite launch area," the report said.

Pyongyang said last month it will put a satellite into orbit, claiming its sovereign right to space development. On March 9, its military warned any foreign attempt to shoot down the satellite would lead to a war on the Korean Peninsula, and its foreign ministry vowed to take "every necessary measure" to defend its sovereignty.

Neighboring countries believe the satellite launch may be cover for the test-firing of a long-range missile that can theoretically reach Alaska.


N. Korea Says Apology Precondition for Resuming Dialogue

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on March 14 Seoul should apologize for disrupting inter-Korean relations if it wants to resume reconciliation talks.

The two Koreas' once amicable ties have worsened since South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office last year with a tough policy on Pyongyang. Almost all cross-border cooperation projects, products of a decade-long engagement policy pursued by Lee's liberal predecessors, were put on hold last year and Pyongyang is now stepping up its war rhetoric against Seoul.

"The Lee Myung-bak government, if it really is interested in inter-Korean dialogue, must apologize before the entire Korean nation for ruining relations with its anti-DPRK (North Korea) confrontational scheme and driving us to the brink of war," the Secretariat of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Fatherland said.

Besides an apology, Seoul should drop its "confrontational" policy and all hostilities against the North to reopen dialogue, the organization said in a report carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The North has spurned Lee's repeated offers to reopen dialogue, stepping up harsh rhetoric against him.

The Secretariat reiterated Pyongyang's stand that any form of inter-Korean dialogue would be meaningless with the Lee administration as long as it "negates agreements signed between the two Koreas and considers the same tribe in the North as an enemy." The North will return only "merciless" retaliation, it warned.


North Korea Emphasizes Friendly Ties with Russia

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's state media on March 17 lauded an economic and cultural cooperation agreement that the North signed with Russia 60 years ago for opening a new chapter of friendly relations between the countries.

Rodong Sinmun said, in a commentary dedicated to the anniversary, the two nations have so far developed cooperation and exchanges economically, culturally and in various other fields and deepened friendly ties as a result of the agreement.

The close relations have contributed to ensuring peace and security in Northeast Asia and establishing sound international relations, said the newspaper of the Workers' Party.

Minju Joson, organ of the Cabinet, also released a commentary in celebration of the anniversary, saying the relations will "continue to be strengthened due to common efforts by the governments and peoples of the two countries."

On the same day, the North's Premier Kim Yong-il sent a congratulatory message to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the anniversary.

The message said the conclusion of the agreement provided a legal basis for developing North Korea-Russia cooperation in different fields, in which the peoples of the two countries have developed mutual exchanges and beneficial cooperation, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

"It expressed belief that the cooperative relations between the two countries would grow stronger in the spirit of the joint documents signed between the two sides," the news agency said.


N. Korean, Chinese premiers Seek to Resume Nuclear Talks in Beijing

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao discussed ways of resuming the six-party denuclearization talks and other regional issues on March 18, amid tension surrounding Pyongyang's planned rocket launch.

The premiers held hour-long talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing before a ceremony for the opening of the "Year of China-DPRK Friendship," marking 60 years of diplomatic relations.

Premier Kim arrived in China on March 17 accompanied by a delegation of economy-related Cabinet ministers.

The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) did not give details on the meeting between the two premiers, saying only that "both sides exchanged views on the issues of mutual concern."

Chinese media reports were more complete. But Chinese state media covering the session, which was not open to foreign media, made no mention of the North's rocket activity.

"We support the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Wen was quoted as saying by China Central Television (CCTV).

The six-party nuclear talks, grouping the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since December due to a dispute over how to verify North Korea's past nuclear activity.

"For the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, the six-party North Korean denuclearization talks should play an important role," Wen was quoted as saying.

In a brief session open to foreign media, Wen asked the North Korean premier to convey his greetings to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and thanked him for paying this "official goodwill visit."

The North Korean premier said it was his first official visit to China and that he was "pleased to attend the opening ceremony of the historic year of China-DPRK friendship."

He also praised China's handling of the international financial crisis and stressed that Pyongyang will stand by Beijing on thorny diplomatic disputes.

"We'll provide our full support from start to end to the Chinese position on the issues of Taiwan, Tibet and human rights," Kim said.

Wen emphasized that the allies are "neighbors who share mountains and rivers" and that North Korea is one of the first countries with which China built diplomatic relations.

Later on March 18, Kim attended the opening ceremony of the Friendship Year and a reception given by his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in Beijing together with his delegation.

During the opening ceremony, Wen recalled that over the past six decades of diplomatic ties between the two countries have made a positive mutual contributions to development and the keeping the peace in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world, according to the KCNA.

The Chinese premier expressed his belief that friendly ties would continue to develop with greater vitality and bear richer fruits, the report said.

Kim was quoted as saying the traditional friendship was the common treasure of both nations and that it is the consistent stance of the North's communist party and government that relations should be further developed.

The North will work closely with China to make festivities to mark the anniversary a success, he stressed.

Following the leaders' speeches, more than 2,000 people from both countries watched an hour-long gala featuring folk songs and dances from both countries, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.

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