Non-Aligned Nations to Urge North Korea to Return to Nuclear Treaty

Published February 23, 2003

| Associated Press

The Non-Aligned Movement will urge North Korea to rejoin a key nuclear treaty and call on Washington and Pyongyang to resolve the standoff over the communist state's nuclear development, officials said Sunday.

North Korea has agreed to include in a summit declaration wording that urges Pyongyang to reverse its Jan. 10 decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, two delegates from separate countries said on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear why Pyongyang would agree to the wording. Earlier, delegates at the Non-Aligned Movement conference here said that North Korea had rejected their calls to re-enter the treaty. The country's delegation declined to discuss the issue with reporters.

"(The draft declaration) also urges parties concerned to resolve the tension peacefully," said another delegate involved in talks on the statement, adding that the parties refer to "the United States and North Korea."

Pyongyang insists on direct talks with Washington to resolve the tension, but the United States rules out such talks until North Korea abandons its suspected nuclear weapons development.

Seniors diplomats of the movement, which represents 55 percent of the world's people and nearly two-thirds of the United Nations, were to discuss the issue further before a final document is adopted Tuesday by the group's leaders.

Tensions over suspected development of weapons of mass destruction by North Korea, as well as Iraq, have dominated preparatory talks for the summit.

Pyongyang had insisted that the movement condemn Washington for causing the nuclear crisis, but some leading states resisted that demand, the delegates said.

North Korea accuses the United States of inciting the nuclear crisis as a pretext for an invasion, and wants a nonaggression pact. Washington says it wants to settle the issue peacefully, while insisting talks should be in a multilateral setting.

Indonesia hopes to play a mediating role between Washington and Pyongyang.

At Pyongyang's request, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri was meeting Sunday with North Korea's No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam, on the summit sidelines to discuss ways to defuse the nuclear tensions.

Megawati sent a special envoy to Pyongyang last month to try to settle the nuclear dispute.

The crisis began in October when U.S. officials said that Pyongyang admitted having a covert nuclear program. Washington and its allies suspended fuel shipment to North Korea as punishment, and Pyongyang retaliated by expelling U.N. monitors and pulling out of the treaty.

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