01 January 2006

Kim Urges U.S. Withdrawal from S. Korea

In a typical New Year's Day directive from North Korea, the Kim government has urged that the U.S. pull out of the Korean Peninsula so that reunification of the two divided nations can occur.
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea on Sunday accused the United States of seeking to start a new war on the Korean Peninsula, vowing to boost its own military and calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea.
"Dark clouds of war are hovering over the Korean nation, (which) is ardently yearning for reunification," said an editorial in the North's official Korean Central News Agency and three state-run newspapers. "It is the real intention of the U.S. not to hesitate to plunge the Korean nation to nuclear catastrophe."

North Korea often issues policy directives in New Year's Day editorials.

"The entire nation should firmly defend peace and security on the Korean Peninsula by turning out in the struggle to resolutely foil the U.S. attempt to launch another war," the editorial said.

"We must remove the root cause of war completely from this land by launching a nationwide campaign for driving out the U.S. troops," it added.

The message did not mention the international standoff over North Korea's nuclear programs.

The United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia have held five rounds of talks since 2003 aimed at resolving the standoff.

In September, North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear weapons programs in return for aid and security assurances, but no progress has been made in implementing the agreement.

In December, North Korea threatened to boycott the six-nation talks unless the United States lifts sanctions it imposed over alleged counterfeiting and other illicit activities by the North.

The North says it developed nuclear weapons to deter U.S. attack. Washington has repeatedly said it has no intention of invading the communist country.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il faces the challenge of reviving his country's sickly economy, and the editorial called agriculture "the main front of the economic construction this year." It added, however, that the military remained "a top priority."

Kim has followed a "songun" — or "army first" — policy aimed at building up the country's 1.1 million-strong army and protecting his government.
Let's see, you parade weapons through the streets, threaten to boycott multi-nation talks and in the midst of a huge economic abyss claim that the military is a high priority. Seems like positive steps towards reunification to me.

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