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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 15:05 GMT
N Korea rejects 'hostile' Bush remarks
A North Korean military honour guard, Pyongyang
North Korea and the US have no diplomatic ties
By the BBC's Kevin Kim in Seoul

North Korea is fighting back after US President George Bush described it as being part of an "axis of evil".

President Bush made the comments in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, also denouncing Iraq and Iran.

The Korean Central News Agency, the official news outlet of North Korea, said on Thursday that President Bush's remark was a sign of a hostile and aggressive stance.

It added that the remark was aimed at justifying the stationing of US troops in the South, keeping up with its hostile and aggressive policy.

'Rogue state'

As the verbal battle continues, some fear that this may sour improving relations between the two Koreas divided for more than 50 years.

George Bush making his first State of the Union address
Bush says N Korea sponsors "terrorism"
This is not the first time the US and North Korea have exchanged such verbal accusations.

Since the beginning of President Bush's administration, Washington officials have called the communist country a rogue state and its leader, Kim Jong-Il, a dictator.

As rhetoric escalates, the uneasiness in South Korea grows. Although the foreign ministry in Seoul has not put out an official comment, President Kim Dae-Jung, a Nobel peace prize Laureate, has said in the past that the sunshine policy of patiently engaging North Korea was the only way of bringing peace to the peninsular.

President Bush is scheduled to visit Seoul in mid-February for a summit with President Kim. Some critics believe Seoul officials may ask the US to do more to lower the tension with North Korea and bring the country back to the negotiation table.

See also:

26 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Kim dismisses 'rogue' status
19 Jun 00 | Middle East
US rebrands its rogues gallery
19 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
US eases North Korea sanctions
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