SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea will reject Japan's continued participation in the six-party disarmament talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear programs, an official warned Saturday ahead of the latest round of negotiations in Beijing.
"We will neither treat Japan as a party to the talks nor deal with it even if it impudently appears in the conference room, lost to shame," a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in comments carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
The move was apparently in response to Japan's refusal to provide aid to North Korea under a disarmament-for-aid pact.
The comments came two days before negotiators of the six nations prepare to meet Monday in Beijing to advance the stalled talks.
Japan has refused to join four other countries — South Korea, the United States, China, Russia — in providing aid to North Korea as a reward for disarmament until Pyongyang addresses the kidnapping of more than a dozen Japanese in the 1970s and '80s.
North Korea in 2002 acknowledged kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens, and allowed five victims to return home, saying the remaining eight had died. Japan, however, has demanded proof of the deaths and a probe into additional suspected kidnapping cases.
Japan and North Korea struck a breakthrough deal in June under which North Korea pledged to finally resolve the abductions of Japanese citizens, an emotional issue that slowed progress in nuclear talks. But no major progress has been made since then.
Japan "has neither justification nor qualification to participate in the talks. On the contrary, it only lays a hurdle in the way of achieving the common goal," the North Korean official said.
Other countries beside the six parties have expressed willingness to give economic aid to North Korea in place of Japan, the official said without elaborating.