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North Korea Threatens to Quit ASEAN Forum

  • VOA News

Diplomats attending a one-day Southeast Asian security forum in Malaysia say North Korea threatened to quit the annual gathering if the organization criticizes Pyongyang over its missile tests.

Officials at the talks said North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun made the threat today (Friday) during the meeting's opening session in Kuala Lumpur.

Later, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice convened an informal meeting with nine other countries to discuss reviving stalled talks on North Korea's nuclear program. She called for a "robust dialogue" on northeast Asia security.

Delegates say some ministers at the closed-door meeting criticized North Korea for test-firing seven missiles earlier this month. North Korea refused to take part in the meeting, saying Washington must first end financial sanctions against Pyongyang.

They say North Korea's Paek has defended the missile tests as necessary for self-defense.

The informal meeting included the five nations that have negotiated in six-party talks with North Korea in the past (the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan, Russia), plus five other countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill says North Korea is isolating itself by rejecting requests to join informal talks at the forum.

Washington has imposed financial sanctions on North Korean-linked companies suspected of money laundering and counterfeiting U.S. dollars.

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