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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
US consults Asian allies on N Korea
Presidents Kim Dae-jung and George W Bush
There are fears that Bush will cloud Mr Kim's 'sunshine policy'
Officials from the United States, Japan and South Korea have pledged to work together to deal with concerns over North Korea's weapons of mass destruction.

The talks in Seoul - the first since President George W Bush took office in January - come amid new tension between the US and North Korea.

[The new US policy] is a deliberate and intentional move to get on the nerves of [North Korea] and incite confrontation

North's state media
President Bush has expressed scepticism about North Korea's desire for peace, calling the country untrustworthy. That prompted the communist state to threaten to resume its nuclear programme.

North Korea also called off the latest round of reconciliation talks with its southern neighbour.

The Korean border is one of the last frontiers of the Cold War

The BBC's Seoul correspondent says the talks are seen as an important signal that Washington intends to continue to consult closely with its Asian allies over North Korea.

'Hardline policy'

On Sunday, the North's state media accused the US of trying to incite confrontation with its new tough stance against the country.

The current US government is "these days threatening to take a hardline policy towards the DPRK [North Korea] under the pretext of a threat," the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

Korean soldier
North Korea views the new US administration as hostile
"This is a deliberate and intentional move to get on the nerves of the DPRK and incite confrontation."

The Bush administration is currently reviewing its policy toward North Korea.

Talks with the North on its missile programme have been suspended.

New Zealand ties

In a separate development, New Zealand established ties with North Korea on Monday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said normalising relations with Pyongyang would enable New Zealand to discuss regional concerns with the country, such as security and humanitarian relief.

In recent months, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Australia have established ties with North Korea, as part of a growing effort towards reconciliation with the reclusive state.

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See also:

08 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Seoul's fears over Bush
18 Mar 01 | Americas
Diplomatic flurry in Washington
22 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea threatens end to missile deal
08 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bush rules out North Korea talks
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
17 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea extends missile range
15 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Summer months melt Korean ice
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