With international attention focused on the United Nations on the eve of an unprecedented gathering of world leaders, it was extremely regrettable that the United States had blocked participation of a delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Li Hyong Chol, Permanent Representative of that country, told correspondents this afternoon.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was to be represented at the Summit by a 15-member delegation that included Kim Yong Nam, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. All preparations had been made and the delegation was to have arrived in New York on Monday, 4 November. But, while attempting to change planes at a stop-over in Frankfurt, Germany, a group identified as United States aviation security officials halted the party's progress.
Mr. Hyong Chol said the security officials "provoked" the delegates by intentionally creating difficult boarding procedures and by labelling the Democratic People's Republic of Korea a "rogue State". The members of the delegation were told that they could board the plane only after answering detailed questions and by allowing their baggage to be searched. "They even attempted body searching of the delegation", he said. Even after informing the security force that they were a delegation en route to a United Nations high-level summit meeting, the President of the Presidium and his company were not allowed to board the American Airlines plane.
The acts by the United States security officials were "rude" and contrary to even the primary morality and formality that the host country should have observed in its relations with high-level delegations of United Nations Member States, Mr. Hyong Chol said. The international community, aspiring towards peace and harmony, had expressed astonishment at the "hooligan" acts. It was representative of the "insidious" and "brazen" nature of the United States to issue entry visas for the delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and even invite members to a reception to be hosted by the President of the United States, and then "fabricate" an incident, subsequently stopping the delegation half-way.
A correspondent wondered what reason the United States Government would have for "fabricating" such an incident. "I believe that these could be the acts of people displeased with the positive trends taking place on the Korean peninsula", said Mr. Hyong Chol. Perhaps certain forces were interested in placing obstacles in the path of the "speedy, harmonious reconciliation process" occurring between the Koreas. During the Summit, he continued, the President of the Presidium had been expected to participate in bilateral meetings with representatives from South Korea and Japan, but since neither he nor any member of the delegation would be present, those important talks would have to wait.
Noting that he could recall no incident in recent history in which a foreign head of State had been strip-searched, another correspondent wondered about the
DPRK Press Conference - 2 - 5 September 2000
reaction of the German Government to the incident. "Like you and everybody else", Mr. Hyong Chol said, "we also find this incident difficult to understand". Nevertheless, the incident did occur. "This was a real encroachment on the pride and sovereignty of an independent State", he added.
Several corespondents wanted to know if indeed the delegation had been strip-searched. Mr. Hyong Chol said he believed that they were partly forced to submit to a strip search. Asked if the United States Government had given any reason for blocking the delegation, he said that there had been "any number" of explanations, but that the Government did not seem prepared to face the reality of this situation in an honest way.
Concerning future relations between the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea following the incident, Mr. Hyong Chol said the United States should understand that the price for this kind of "provocative behaviour" would be "very high".
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