North Korea calls Clinton vulgar, unintelligent

SEOUL Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:44am EDT

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Phuket July 22, 2009. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Phuket July 22, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Sukree Sukplang

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SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, bristling at being described by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as behaving like an unruly child, responded in kind Thursday, calling her vulgar and less then clever.

Clinton is in Thailand for a major regional security meeting where she is urging governments to keep pressing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program and enforce sanctions against the reclusive state.

"She has made a spate of vulgar remarks unbecoming for her position everywhere she went since she was sworn in," North Korea's KCNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.

It said her comments earlier in the week that North Korean behavior such as a recent spate of missile launches was like an unruly child demanding attention "suggests she is by no means intelligent."

"We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community.

"Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping," the report added.

"It is our view that she can make even a little contribution to the implementation of the U.S. administration's foreign policy as secretary of State only when she has understanding of the world, to begin with."

The impoverished state insists that it is only trying to develop an atomic weapon to defend itself from what it considers as a hostile United States.

However, many analysts say North Korea's autocratic leadership under sickly ruler Kim Jong-il sees a nuclear arsenal as the one asset it can use to extract worthwhile concessions from the outside world without putting its own position at home at risk.

North Korea in April announced its second nuclear test, incurring more international sanctions.

It has sent a low-ranking official to this week's ASEAN Regional Forum in Phuket who told his Thai hosts that Pyongyang did not want to become a punchbag at the security meeting. (Reporting by Jonathan Thatcher; Editing by David Fox)

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