Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 11:12 UK

N Korea in defiant nuclear stance

Image grab of North Korean TV showing apparent rocket launch
Pyongyang insists its launch carried a communications satellite

North Korea has confirmed it will not re-join international negotiations on its nuclear disarmament.

State media said Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov - who is in Pyongyang - had been notified.

Mr Lavrov was the first senior foreign visitor to the North since it quit the talks, expelled UN inspectors and vowed to restart its nuclear programme.

The move followed UN criticism of its recent rocket launch that many nations said was a long-range missile test.

Mr Lavrov's two-day visit focused on trying to persuade Pyongyang to return to six-nation negotiations - which include North and South Korea, China, Russia, the US and Japan.

The North's foreign ministry said Mr Lavrov's team had "paid attention to the DPRK's (North Korea's) position that it no longer needs six-party talks", in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Feb 2007 - North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid
June 2007 - North Korea shuts its main Yongbyon reactor
June 2008 - North Korea makes its long-awaited declaration of nuclear assets
Oct 2008 - The US removes North Korea from its list of countries which sponsor terrorism
Dec 2008 - Pyongyang slows work to dismantle its nuclear programme after a US decision to suspend energy aid
Jan 2009 - The North says it is scrapping all military and political deals with the South, accusing it of "hostile intent"
5 April 2009 - Pyongyang launches a rocket carrying what it says is a communications satellite
14 April 2009 - After criticism of the launch from the UN Security Council, North Korea vows to walk out of six-party talks

"It is a difficult situation but one does not need to succumb to emotions and should concentrate on the foundation we already have," Mr Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russian media after meeting his North Korean counterpart.

A letter from Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev was also sent to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, although Mr Lavrov did not meet him, KCNA reported.

Russia and China - which have traditionally warm ties with Pyongyang - have opposed Western attempts to impose new sanctions following the 5 April launch.

But the two countries angered North Korea by supporting a less strongly worded condemnation by the UN Security Council and tightened sanctions.

The six-party talks have stalled in recent months since a landmark deal under which the North agreed to end its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and political incentives.

Last year North Korea partially disabled its Yongbyon reactor and handed over what it said was a complete declaration of its nuclear activities.

In return, the US removed North Korea from the list of countries it says sponsors terrorism.

But talks have broken down, with Washington and Pyongyang accusing each other of failing to meet obligations.

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