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N. Korea wants end to "hostile" U.S. policy, draft ARF statement says


North Korea is urging the United States and other countries to immediately end their "hostile" policies against Pyongyang, blaming such policies as the root cause of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a draft statement of a regional security bloc showed Saturday.

The proposed chairman's statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum is different from the initial version. The draft statement containing the North Korean assertion has been sent to the ASEAN members and dialogue partners ahead of the ARF in Brunei next Tuesday.

According to the latest draft, ARF members singled out North Korea and voiced concern over the current situation on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea, meanwhile, says it reaffirms its continued efforts to achieve peace and stability on the peninsula.

Tensions have stemmed from North Korean threats of war and retaliation over the South Korea-U.S. joint military drill and United Nations sanctions for Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February.

But North Korea recently has apparently shifted to being more willing to have a dialogue with the United States and South Korea. Attention has been focused on whether Pyongyang will make contact with either of the countries in Brunei.

However, differences between North Korea on the one hand and Japan, the United States and South Korea on the other remain strong as the three countries continue to push for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.

Speculation is rife that North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun may convey a hard-line stance on the nuclear issue during the ARF ministerial meeting.

Apparently mirroring Japan's demand, the draft statement also says it is important to eliminate concerns over humanitarian issues such as abductions, seemingly referring to the abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents.

But North Korea reiterates in the statement its view that the abduction issue has already been resolved.

The chairman's statement has either directly or indirectly touched on the abduction issue for the past several years, but there was no mention of it in the ARF statement last July, prompting the Japanese government to protest to then chair country Cambodia, Japanese officials said.