North Korea calls Seoul nuclear summit "ridiculous"

South Korea is hosting an international nuclear summit next March.

Seoul: North Korea has dismissed as "ridiculous" South Korea`s hosting of an international nuclear summit next year, barely two days after the North`s leader Kim Jong-il was conditionally invited to join 50 world leaders at the event in Seoul.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on Monday he was ready to invite Kim to the summit in Seoul next March if the reclusive North agreed to renounce nuclear weapons, and apologised for two deadly attacks last year.

"It is ridiculous that South Korea will hold a nuclear summit after it made its country the world`s biggest nuclear war outpost and nuclear arsenal," the North`s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a semi-official organ handling inter-Korean relations, said in a statement.

The statement was carried by the North`s official KCNA news agency late on Wednesday.

The chances of Kim attending the summit are virtually zero, analysts say, because the North is unlikely to agree to give up nuclear weapons, which it sees as a deterrent against attack and a formidable bargaining chip.

Experts say the North is also unlikely to yield to pressure from Seoul concerning last year`s attacks.

Pyongyang has denied any role in the first attack, the sinking of a South Korean warship, and said it was provoked into shelling a South Korean island after the South fired shells into nearby disputed waters during a military drill.

The two Koreas are still technically at war, having only signed a ceasefire to end the 1950-53 Korean War. Last year tensions spiked to their highest level in years after the attacks and the North`s revelations of major nuclear advances.

Pressure is building on the rival Koreas to work out their differences at the negotiating table as a prelude to a possible resumption of international nuclear talks which also involve China, the United States, Japan and Russia.

In the past few months, both Lee and Kim have said they are willing to meet, but analysts say a leaders` summit is unlikely this year.

Bureau Report