New U.S. terrorism report scales back N. Korea criticism

WASHINGTON-- The U.S. State Department on Friday published an annual terrorism report mentioning North Korea's redesignation as a state sponsor of terrorism in 2017, but it removed earlier descriptions of the regime's "dangerous and malicious behavior."

The Country Reports on Terrorism explained that then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson redesignated North Korea for "repeatedly" providing support for acts of international terrorism, with the North implicated in "assassinations on foreign soil," an apparent reference to the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half brother at a Malaysian airport in 2017.

The initial designation came in 1988 for the North's bombing of a South Korean airliner that killed all 115 people aboard. In 2008, it was taken off the list in exchange for progress in denuclearization talks.

In a departure from last year's report, however, the State Department did not detail the North's actions, in a possible move to avoid provoking Pyongyang amid stalled negotiations on dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

Last year's report said: "These terrorist acts are in keeping with the DPRK's wider range of dangerous and malicious behavior, including continued nuclear and ballistic missile testing and development as well as Kim Jong-un's threats against American cities and territories and those of our allies."

DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Last year's report also accused North Korea of continuing to violate U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions and providing shelter to four Japanese Red Army members wanted by the Japanese government for their participation in a 1970 Japan Airlines hijacking.

In addition, it raised the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, saying only five abductees have been repatriated to Japan since 2002.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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