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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 20:33 GMT
North Korea drags its feet
North Korean soldiers march through Pyongyang
The US still accuses North Korea of sponsoring terrorism
By the BBC's Caroline Gluck in Pyongyang

Unexpected countries are joining the US-led global alliance against terrorism, and many are calling on East Asia's reclusive communist state, North Korea, to do the same.

North Korea - or The Democratic People's Republic of Korea - still remains on Washington's list of countries accused of being state sponsors of terrorism.

Officially, that is because of its refusal to hand over for trial four Red Army members who hijacked a Japanese airplane to North Korea in 1970.

Pyongyang is keen to get its name removed from the list - which has led to an embargo on loans from international financial institutions including the World Bank.

But relations with the US nonetheless remain prickly.

Spy ship

In Pyongyang, anti-American propaganda persists.

The former American spy ship, the USS Pueblo, captured by the North in 1968, is now moored on the Taedong River in the capital and serves as a museum.

More than a quarter of a million North Koreans have visited since the Pueblo was moved to its mooring in the capital.

A South Korean spots her North Korean brother
Reunions have been suspended
The Cold War rhetoric still has an audience here.

A former soldier involved in the capture of the boat - Kim Jong Uk - told the BBC that any improvement in the relationship between the two countries lay in the hands of the Americans.

"The Americans caused a lot of bloodshed among Koreans. As long as they exist, we will not prosper. We must show our children, our descendants, the history of the American atrocities," he said.

"The Bush administration has said that it wants to improve relations with us. But realistically, he's ruined all the good relations that we'd formed under the previous administration, and I think we'll have to see how this administration will change."

While Pyongyang has condemned the attacks in the United States, it has also denounced the retaliation against Afghanistan, which it says could plunge the world into another war.

And the suicide attacks on the US have also taken their toll on the fragile peace process in the Korean peninsular.

In a radio broadcast earlier this month, North Korea announced it was postponing family reunions between relatives from the two Koreas who have been separated for the past half-century.

The reason: heightened security in South Korea in the wake of the US attacks, which is making the North nervous.

Out in the cold

But a new world order is forming in the wake of the US attacks, and there is a chance for North Korea - the DPRK - to shed its label as a state sponsor of terrorism and re-engage with the US.

But Scott Schneider, the Asia Foundation's representative in Seoul who has just returned from a visit to the North, thinks that is unlikely for the time being:

"Despite what President Bush has said about nations clearly being either friends or enemies, the DPRK still seems to be trying its hardest to sit on the fence," he said.

"So far, the DPRK has done the minimum necessary to try to keep itself firmly off the enemy list, but there has not been action that would help to create a dialogue with the US, and the DPRK is not taking advantage of any potential opportunities to show pro-active cooperation with the US Government."

With events moving so quickly in other parts of the world, the North may find itself increasingly out of step and isolated as other countries join hands in the global war against terrorism.

See also:

26 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
North Korea spurns US
12 Oct 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush's volatile coalition
21 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea faces desperate future
09 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Koreans 'starving to death'
27 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea attacks 'airspace violation'
09 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Kim Jong-il
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