• Kyodo


North Korea on Saturday blasted Japan’s plan to host in October a multinational maritime exercise on intercepting weapons of mass destruction, saying it runs counter to a bilateral agreement signed in 2002, official media reported.

“Japan’s behavior diametrically runs counter to the DPRK-Japan Pyongyang Declaration in which both sides committed themselves not to take any action against each other’s security,” the (North) Korean Central News Agency quoted a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying. DPRK is the acronym of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

The “double-faced attitude of the Japanese authorities” in planning to conduct the exercise while promising to implement the declaration will “only heighten the vigilance among (military personnel) and the people of the DPRK,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.

The remarks are the first criticism against Japan through official commentary since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang in May for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

They also come ahead of a working-level meeting between the two countries scheduled to be held in the near future. The meeting is expected to precede the resumption of formal bilateral talks to normalize diplomatic ties.

Under the Pyongyang Declaration signed in September 2002, the two countries are committed to working to establish diplomatic relations by resolving outstanding issues.

Japan is aiming to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens as well as its nuclear development and missile programs before forging diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

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