Nato foreign ministers condemn N. Korea war threats

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Nato foreign ministers condemned North Korea's war threats on Tuesday, calling on Pyongyang to abandon atomic weapons just as it insisted on being treated as a nuclear-armed state on equal terms with long-time foe the United States.

"North Korea's provocative actions are in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions and seriously undermine regional stability," the ministers said in a statement as they met at Nato headquarters in Brussels.

They also "jeopardise the prospects for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and threaten international peace and security," it added.

The 28 ministers called on North Korea to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner; and engage in credible and authentic talks on denuclearisation."

North Korea's bellicose rhetoric of the past few months, including threats of nuclear war against the United States, have stoked tensions in the region.

The threats and bluster have been seen as an effort to force Washington, the close ally of South Korea, into talks on normalising relations.

However, North Korea earlier on Tuesday renewed its demand that it be treated as a nuclear power, saying it was a prerequisite for any dialogue with the United States.

A commentary in the North's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper rejected as "totally unacceptable" a US demand that North Korea commit to abandoning its nuclear weapons and missile programme before any talks can begin.

Any meeting at the negotiating table must be "between nuclear weapons states," it said.

Washington has made it clear that it will never formally accept the North, which carried out its third nuclear test in February, as a nuclear power.

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