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The BBC's Mark Devenport reports
"The North Koreans felt insulted by the security checks and body searches they were subjected to"
 real 56k

The BBC's Mark Devenport
"What happened at Frankfurt airport appears to have been a blunder of the first order"
 real 28k

The BBC's Paul Anderson
"They were forced to take off clothes and shoes before being body searched"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK
US regrets 'insult' to North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, right, and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung
There were hopes of a follow up to June's historic meeting
The United States has said it regretted an incident at the Frankfurt airport that led North Korea to withdraw its delegation from the United Nations Millennium summit.

The North Korean officials took exception to the actions of United States airline security personnel at Frankfurt airport who demanded to search the delegation members and their belongings.


The recent happening goes to clearly prove that the US is the world's biggest state of hooligans and rogues

North Korean Foreign Ministry
"It's certainly an unfortunate incident we regret," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.

He blamed the incident on the unfamiliarity of US airline security personnel in dealing with the North Korean officials.

American Airlines has apologised for what it described as routine security procedures, and said it had offered the North Koreans flights to the summit in New York with another airline.

The White House stressed that no US officials were actually involved.

As diplomats, the North Korean officials should not have had to undergo any searches.

In a statement the North Korean foreign ministry threatened unspecified retaliation for what Pyongyang is seeing as a grave insult.

Disappointment

There had been hopes that the leader of the North Korean delegation would meet South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung in New York to follow up on June's meeting between the leaders of both countries.

The UN has also expressed its disappointment at the North Korean withdrawal.

BBC UN correspondent Mark Devenport says that the summit will be the poorer for the absence of the North Koreans, but it is hoped that the incident will not be sufficient to derail the Korean peace process.

'Unbearable mockery'

Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon said on Tuesday that the delegation decided to return home following "rude and provocative" treatment by US security staff.

Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon
Choe Su Hon: No apology will do
"This incident cannot be construed otherwise than an intentional and premeditated plot made in advance according to the manuscript of the US administration," Mr Choe said.

Asked whether North Korea would consider proceeding to the UN summit if Washington made an official apology, Choe Su Hon said: "No, not this time. The chance has been lost."

He said US air security officials had opened suitcases and handbags of each member of the presidential entourage, forcing them to take off clothes and shoes and thoroughly searching even sensitive parts of the body.

The North Korean delegation was headed by the chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yong Nam.

"This is a brigandish act of violating the international usage of travel and neglecting elementary etiquette and morality for a state representative ... and an unbearable mockery of the sovereignty of an independent state and a grave challenge to the United Nations and the summit organised by it."

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See also:

13 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Pyongyang reaches out
17 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Albright to assess Korea talks
18 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
US keeps military option in Korea
07 Jan 00 | Americas
US and North Korea to resume talks
13 Oct 99 | Americas
New strategy urged for North Korea
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