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 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 13:54 GMT
UN watchdog calls N Korea crisis talks
South Korean soldiers performing exercises for possible N Korea attack
S Korea says only dialogue can ease tension
The United Nations nuclear watchdog will hold an emergency meeting on 3 February to assess the North Korea crisis and possibly report the issue to the UN Security Council.

Sometimes you need to talk to the other party even if you dislike them

Kim Dae-jung
South Korean President

The 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet in Vienna, Austria, diplomatic sources said.

If reported to the Security Council, North Korea could consequently face sanctions or other punitive measures.

But China and Russia, traditional allies of North Korea, are likely to block such a move and press for a diplomatic solution.

The news comes as a senior US envoy, John Bolton, said on Friday that the US still wanted North Korea's withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty referred to the Security Council, but would continue to pursue diplomatic means to resolve the crisis.

'Peaceful means'

Mr Bolton, speaking following talks on North Korea with senior Japanese officials, said that US President George W Bush had "no intention" of invading the country and was committed to diplomatic efforts.

Speaking following a meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, Mr Bolton added that the issue of sanctions "is not something we have any immediate intention of seeking".

He also said that the US and Japan had agreed on two key points with regard to the crisis.

"The first was the importance of the elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and the second, [was] this should be accomplished through peaceful means," he said.

However Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov warned that any move to refer North Korea's nuclear violations to the Security Council would exacerbate tensions.

"To refer the North Korean problem to the Security Council would be seen by North Korea as an attempt to put pressure on it," he told a news conference in Moscow.

North Korea has said that any such move would amount to a declaration of war, and BBC correspondent Charles Scanlon says that its neighbours are taking the threat seriously.

'Disappointed'

The South Korean President, Kim Dae-jung, has also warned that the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear programme will only be resolved when North Korean-US relations improve.

CRISIS CHRONOLOGY
North Korean soldier
16 Oct: N Korea acknowledges secret nuclear programme, US says
14 Nov: Oil shipments to N Korea halted
22 Dec: N Korea removes monitoring devices at Yongbyon nuclear plant
31 Dec: UN nuclear inspectors forced to leave North Korea
10 Jan: N Korea pulls out of anti-nuclear treaty
11 Jan: Pyongyang suggests it could resume ballistic missile tests
24 Jan: North-South talks end without making progress
Speaking to reporters on Friday, President Kim said that while South Korea remained wary of the North, his policy of dialogue between the two states was the only way to ease tension on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea has said it will send a special envoy, Lim Dong-won, to Pyongyang on 27 January to discuss the crisis.

The move came after South Korea said it was disappointed that North Korea did not commit itself to abandon its nuclear ambitions at talks between the two sides in Seoul.

Dialogue

President Kim told reporters that he believed there was no alternative to his sunshine policy of engagement with North Korea - despite what he called "significant problems" over the North's nuclear programme.

"For world peace and the benefit of the nation, sometimes you need to talk to the other party even if you dislike them," he said.

The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Seoul says Mr Kim's comments can be seen as a veiled criticism of US policies towards the North.

Pyongyang had said it would only hold talks on the nuclear issue with Washington - although some reports now suggest it may accept mediation from its neighbours.

The US has said it is not willing to negotiate with the North until it dismantles its suspected nuclear arms programme, and Pyongyang in turn has said it will not give any concessions unless it could discuss the matter directly with Washington.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"The officials will stay in Pyongyang for two to three days of talks"
  John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State
"We don't have any intention presently to seek sanction"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

24 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
22 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
13 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
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