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N. Korea refuses to disarm

North Korea and Japan have never had formal diplomatic relations
North Korea and Japan have never had formal diplomatic relations

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start quoteThough neighbors, our countries remain distantend quote
-- Jong Thae Hwa, head of North Korean delegation
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Japan says there will be no formal ties until North Korea shelves its nuclear arms program. CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon reports
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1994 agreement
North Korea promised to give up its nuclear weapons program and allow inspections to verify that it did not have the material such weapons would require. The country has yet to allow the inspections.
N. Korea nuclear facts
  • North Korea launched a medium-range "test" missile over Japan in 1998.
  • The 1994 Agreed Framework was signed by North Korea with the Clinton administration.
  • In return, an international consortium is building new nuclear reactors in North Korea.
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    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) -- North Korea has rejected international demands to give up its secretive nuclear weapons program.

    Japanese officials said on Tuesday that North Korea refused to accept concerns expressed by Japan, the United States and South Korea that it should disarm. (United call for N. Korea to scrap nukes)

    A Japanese official told reporters on the sidelines of a landmark meeting of the two Asian neighbors in Malaysia that North Korean officials said they could not accept the idea of stopping the nuclear program because of what they called a hostile U.S. stance.

    North Korea has also accused Japan of breaking a promise to return five Japanese abductees who were allowed to return to their homeland for a visit, setting the Asian neighbors on a collision course over the issue.

    The diplomatic wrangling occurred on the first day of talks between Japan and North Korea in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

    Both nations -- who have shared no direct ties since the communist country's founding shortly after World War II -- agreed to resume talks during a landmark September summit.

    Bomb-making

    The two days of talks were originally meant to focus on normalizing diplomatic relations -- which would bring Japanese economic aid to North Korea -- but now it is centered on the North's bomb-making efforts and its abduction of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s.

    This month the Stalinist state admitted to U.S. officials it had violated a 1994 agreement to abandon its nuclear weapons program, raising regional tensions and complicating the outlook for Japan's talks on normalizing ties with its former colony.

    Even before the North admitted to a secret weapons program, Washington had labeled the Stalinist state part of an "axis of evil", along with Iraq and Iran.

    Japanese officials are using the Kuala Lumpur talks to tell their North Korean counterparts the normalization of ties and economic aid will not be forthcoming until it abandons and dismantles its nuclear program.

    Tokyo role

    The North has blamed concerns over its nuclear program on the United States and accused America of not meeting its part of the 1994 deal. (How North Korea sees the world)

    North Korea wants to negotiate chiefly with the United States on the nuclear issue, but Japanese officials said Tokyo should play a key role since it is also threatened by the North's arsenal.

    North Korea stunned Japan and the rest of the world by test-firing a Taepodong ballistic missile that passed over Japan and fell into the Pacific ocean in August 1998.

    Further denting the talks between the Asian neighbors is the issue of abductions, with a tug-of-war ensuing over their fate.

    The North's negotiators on Tuesday accused Japan of breaking a promise that five surviving abductees -- now on their first trip back home -- would be returned to North Korea.

    -- CNN Correspondent Rebecca McKinnon and CNN Producer Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report



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