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North Korean Diplomat Says Country Willing To Talk... With Conditions

Vote Delayed Again On UN Sanctions Against Regime

As a vote on UN-sponsored sanctions is delayed again and amid signs of fresh activity at a launch site in eastern North Korea... the government of Kim Jong Il Tuesday may have let on to the real reason behind its recent flexing of missile-muscle.

Speaking in South Africa during an official visit, a North Korean diplomat says his country is willing to continue six-party talks if the United States drops its sanctions over counterfeiting and drug trafficking. Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hyong Jun also said that North Korea had test-fired missiles last week in self-defense, due to planned joint US-South Korean-Japanese military exercises on the Korean peninsula.

So far, there's been no response from the US directly aimed at the North Korean statements... but an American troubleshooter has been sent to Beijing to work on restarting those talks, which include Russia, Japan and South Korea.

In the meantime, representatives with South Korea have suggested Japanese leaders are overreacting with their demand for tough UN sanctions from the Security Council over North Korea's recent actions.

South Korea "will strongly react to the Japanese political leaders' arrogance and outrageous rhetoric that further intensifies the crisis on the Korean Peninsula with dangerous and provocative rhetoric such as 'pre-emptive strike,'" said South Korean presidential spokesman Jung Tae-ho to CNN.

Eight of the council's 15 members are scheduled to meet Wednesday, to continue talks leading up to a vote. But all eyes are on Beijing as China and North Korea continue talks aimed at getting the missiles off that launch pad and defusing the situation.

FMI: www.un.org

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