North Korea denounces Bush as "wicked man"

North Korea denounced U.S. President George W. Bush as a "wicked man" comparable to Adolf Hitler, and labeled his advocating democracy a pretext for invading other countries. "The U.S. admonition for 'freedom' and 'democracy' is to invent pretexts for violating sovereignty of other countries and nations and establishing its unchallenged domination over the world," the North's official Korean Central News Agency wrote late Monday.

Bush, addressing South Korea-based U.S. troops Sunday during an Asian tour, didn't directly mention the North but alluded to the communist nation as he praised the capitalist South.

South Korea "is now a beacon of liberty that shines across the most heavily armed border in the world," Bush said. "It is a light reaching to a land shrouded in darkness."

"Together the United States and (South Korea) have shown that the future belongs to freedom, and one day all Koreans will enjoy the blessings of freedom," he said.

The North said Bush's "reckless remarks would entail adverse consequences in the process for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula." KCNA called Bush a "warlike president" who "took the lead in advocating state-sponsored terrorism" and "openly defended murderous torture in prisons", which it claimed were reminiscent of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"History proves that the ringleaders of fascism that stood stern trials for their crimes against humanity advocated 'freedom' and 'democracy' more noisily than any others," KCNA wrote. "This will only more glaringly reveal his true colors as a wicked man whom the world compares to fascist fanatic Hitler."

North Korea has bristled at U.S. criticism of its human rights record, seeing it as part of an attempt to overthrow the regime. Its fears grew after the United States invaded Iraq, and Pyongyang has claimed it was compelled to build nuclear weapons for self-defense.

On Tuesday, the North also denounced a recent U.S. government report citing the country's lack of religious freedom.

The report "is part of a U.S. plot to isolate and stifle anti-U.S. countries one by one," the North's official Rodong Sinmun daily said in a commentary carried by KCNA.

"The process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula can progress only in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust," the newspaper said. The United States and four other countries have sought since 2003 to persuade the North to disarm, with China hosting talks on the matter, reports the AP. I.L.

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