SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea called Vice President Dick Cheney a "bloodthirsty
beast" on Thursday, in response to Cheney saying the North's leader Kim Jong-il
was irresponsible and ran a police state.
"Cheney is hated as the most cruel monster and bloodthirsty beast, as
he has drenched various parts of the world in blood," a North Korean Foreign
Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency.
Washington and North Korea have been in the midst of a war of words in recent
weeks, with President Bush calling the North's Kim a tyrant. Pyongyang has shot
back calling Bush a half-baked man and a philistine.
Cheney said in a TV interview with CNN aired on Monday that Kim was "one
of the world's more irresponsible leaders."
"He runs a police state. He's got one of the most heavily militarized
societies in the world," Cheney said. "He doesn't take care of his
people at all. And he obviously wants to throw his weight around and become
a nuclear power."
The North Korean spokesman said Cheney's comments showed that the United States
wanted to scuttle six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons
programs in exchange for security guarantees and economic assistance.
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the comments from
North Korea were "more of the same kind of bluster we hear from North Korea
from time to time" and serve only to "further isolate themselves from
the international community."
He called on North Korea to return to the six-party talks. "We all share
the goal of a nuclear-free peninsula. North Korea is the one who must make a
strategic decision if they want to realize better relations with the international
community," he said.
Washington has been working to revive the talks that have been stalled for
about a year. U.S. and North Korean officials had a rare, face-to-face meeting
last month at the United Nations that some analysts said was a positive sign
pointing to the resumption of talks.
But patience is wearing thin in Washington and U.S. officials have said they
may take the North Korea nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council, which could
impose sanctions if Pyongyang refuses to return to the table.
In February, North Korea said it possessed nuclear weapons and was boycotting
the six-party talks. Concerns that Pyongyang may soon conduct a nuclear test
have added impetus to resume the talks that include North and South Korea, China,
Japan, Russia and the United States.
"What Cheney uttered at a time when the issue of the six-party talks is
high on the agenda is little short of telling the DPRK not to come out for the
talks," the North's spokesman said. DPRK is short for North Korea's official
name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
On Wednesday, South Korea's foreign minister said distrust between Washington
and Pyongyang was impeding resumption of the six-party talks, adding he was
not overly concerned about the heated rhetoric between the two.
"Although improper words between the United States and North Korea were
made recently, it is important to understand the stances of (the countries)
involved in the six-way talks, rather than being nervous about those words themselves,"
Ban Ki-moon told a press briefing on Wednesday.