North Korea Demands U.S. Stop U-2 Aerial Espionage
TOKYO (AP) _ North Korea, in its first comment on the crash of an American spy plane in the Sea of Japan, said today that U.S. aerial surveillance of the communist country threatens peace efforts with South Korea.
The ruling Workers’ Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, charged that Wednesday’s crash occurred while the U-2 plane was spying on the North.
″Should such an accident occur in the days ahead, the United States may push the situation on the Korean peninsula to an unpredictable phase,″ said the article, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency and monitored in Tokyo.
South Korean searchers recovered the body of the pilot and parts of the plane Thursday about 15 miles east of South Korea’s coastal town of Kosong, and near the border separating North Korea and South Korea.
In Washington, the Defense Department said the plane was ″conducting a routine mission in sovereign airspace of South Korea with that government’s knowledge and approval.″
Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams said indications were that it crashed because of engine trouble, but the incident was being investigated.
U.S. Defense Department officials have said U-2 planes routinely monitor troop movements north of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The aircraft carry sophisticated photographic and electronic equipment.
In Japan, military experts said the planes often fly over an area roughly 60 miles north of Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital. The area is the site of suspected nuclear facilities.
Meanwhile today, official Radio Pyongyang announced that Kim Yong Sun, a senior member of the Workers’ Party, will visit New York next Wednesday for talks with U.S. Undersecretary of State Arnold Kent.
In Washington, the State Department said the officials will discuss improving relations between their nations and concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program.
Kim is a member of the party’s powerful 12-member Secretariat, headed by Kim Jong Il, President Kim Il Sung’s son and heir-apparent.
Japanese analysts believe that Kim Yong Sun is a key aide to Kim Jong Il, who last month was appointed supreme commander of the North’s 1 million-strong armed forces, a job long held by his 79-year-old father.