North Korea renews commitment to six-country talks on its nuclear weapons program

North Korea on Tuesday renewed its commitment to stalled six-country talks on its nuclear weapons program and said difficulties should be overcome, but it lashed out at the U.S. for allegedly creating obstacles to peace and security. "Our republic's stance is that (we) should make efforts to find ways to overcome the difficulties in the six-way talks and move the talks forward," the North's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il made similar remarks in a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in early January, mentioning unspecified "difficulties" facing the talks. North Korea and the United States are not possible unless Washington "immediately stops criminal activities." "The United States' reckless schemes against our country and its maneuver to start a war put the Korean Peninsula into a tense situation," the newspaper said.

It did not elaborate, but apparently referred to sanctions Washington has imposed over the communist country's alleged counterfeiting and other illicit activities. It is also a common rhetorical tactic of Pyongyang to turn Washington's language against itself: The U.S. ambassador to South Korea has called the North a "criminal regime" for its alleged illegal financial activity, a remark Pyongyang has strongly condemned.

In September, the United States slapped restrictions on a bank in the Chinese territory of Macau, saying it had helped North Korea distribute counterfeit U.S. currency and engage in other illicit activities. A month later, Washington imposed sanctions on eight North Korean companies it said were fronts for proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

North Korea has repeatedly denied the U.S. charges and said it would stay away from the nuclear talks until Washington ends the sanctions. The U.S. has refused, saying its financial actions are unrelated to the nuclear issue, reports the AP. I.L.

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