SEOUL -- The main US envoy for North Korea dismissed Pyongyang's demand yesterday for a US apology before it would return to nuclear talks, and the North was expected to convene its parliament to endorse a boycott of the discussions.
A senior North Korean diplomat reaffirmed that his nation would abstain from talks until the United States apologizes for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's labeling the North as one of the world's ''outposts of tyranny."
Rice has not apologized, but during a trip to the region last month, she pointedly called North Korea a ''sovereign" country, a comment many saw as an attempt to soften her earlier statement.
In a sign that Pyongyang may stick with its policy of shunning the talks, North Korea's official news agency said that a session of the country's parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, would meet April 11.
The North originally said it would convene the meeting in early March, after its bold Feb. 10 statement that it had nuclear weapons and would indefinitely boycott the disarmament talks.
In a lecture at Seoul National University, Christopher Hill, US ambassador to South Korea, said the North's latest statement ''was not helpful." Hill, who has been named assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, urged the North Koreans to ''stop with these silly press announcements," saying they should bring their concerns to the arms talks.
China, the North's remaining key ally, has hosted three rounds of inconclusive talks since 2003.