DATE=1/5/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-S / NORTH KOREA (L-0) NUMBER=2-257792 BYLINE=STEPHANIE HO DATELINE=BEIJING CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: North Korea has ruled out sending a senior envoy to the United States for an unprecedented high-level visit. V- O-A's Stephanie Ho reports the comments made in Beijing come after a long official silence on the matter. TEXT: The North Korean Ambassador to China, Chu Chang-jun, says a North Korean delegation cannot visit the United States under the current circumstances. In Beijing Wednesday, Mr. Chu said North Korea feels betrayed by the United States. He also called on Washington to withdraw its troops from South Korea and end what he termed U-S interference in Korean affairs. The comments from Pyongyang's Beijing envoy were North Korea's first indication that it would not go ahead with the visit. The meeting in Washington would have been the first concrete step toward normalizing ties between the two countries. Washington and Pyongyang held their first round of bilateral talks in Berlin in September. The meeting led to a freeze of the North Korean missile program and an easing of U-S sanctions against North Korea. The news follows an announcement Tuesday by Italy that it is the first of the G-Seven industrialized countries to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea. The South Korean government welcomed the decision, saying it will further help open up North Korea to the rest of the world. South and North Korea remain technically at war following the 1950-1953 Korean conflict. Meanwhile, Japan has also been holding political talks with North Korea. Japanese and North Korean officials met in Beijing last month to discuss the eventual normalization of relations between the two Asian neighbors. When the meeting ended, upbeat Japanese officials described the talks as frank and friendly, and said they hoped they would resume early this year. After it established diplomatic ties with Italy, though, Pyongyang threw cold water on any Japanese optimism. The North Korean government demanded that Tokyo provide wartime compensation and an apology before relations could improve. (SIGNED) NEB/HO/FC 05-Jan-2000 05:23 AM EDT (05-Jan-2000 1023 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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