, WASHINGTON, Feb 4 – US President Barack Obama on Wednesday certified that North Korea would remain off the US list of terrorist states, despite some calls from Congress for the Stalinist state to be put back on.
The former administration of president George W. Bush took Pyongyang off the list of state sponsors of terrorism in return for progress on declaring the extent of its nuclear activities in 2008.
But following a series of provocative measures, including an atomic test and missile launches by the secretive state last year, some prominent members of Congress demanded Obama reconsider the move.
But the president, in a letter to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill confirmed that North Korea "does not meet the statutory criteria to again be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism."
Last July, the US Senate passed a non-binding resolution calling on the president to consider adding Pyongyang to the list, calling it a "threat to the northeast Asian region and to international peace and security."
North Korea was added to the blacklist on January 20, 1988, following the bombing by its agents of a KAL plane on November 29, 1987 which killed all 115 on board.
The State Department has said that the North was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since that bombing.
But conservative Republicans in Congress, and some Democrats, fear that the Stalinist regime is guilty of sending military technology to states that Washington views as a threat, including Iran.
Countries deemed by the US Secretary of State to be state sponsors of terrorism face a range of economic sanctions and other restrictions.
The list currently consists of Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
Earlier Wednesday, a senior US official in Seoul rejected North Korea\\\’s terms for resuming nuclear disarmament talks, saying UN sanctions will stay in place until Pyongyang returns to the negotiating table.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, restating Washington\\\’s position, also ruled out any negotiations on a peace treaty until the six-party talks get under way and the North reaffirms willingness to scrap its nuclear programmes.
The North quit the six-party talks last April and tested a second atomic weapon the following month.