A House subcommittee, after hearing "compelling evidence" of North Korean responsibility for the bomb that caused a South Korean airliner crash Nov. 29, yesterday rejected a previously unpublicized North Korean bid for a parliamentary dialogue with Congress.
Led by Chairman Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.), the only member of Congress who has visited North Korea, the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asian and Pacific affairs adopted a resolution condemning North Korea for destruction of the airliner and "categorically" rejecting the proposal for parliamentary talks.
The North Korean proposal was delivered in writing to Solarz in December by envoys from the Soviet Embassy and passed on, as requested, to congressional leaders. Several lawmakers said they are reluctant to oppose discussions with any country, but that North Korean terrorist acts made it impossible to contemplate any contacts with that government. Solarz called the bombing of the airliner, in which 115 persons died, "so absolutely outrageous it almost boggles the imagination: cruel, cynical, uncivilized, the product of mad and monstrous minds." After the hearing, Solarz said he was gripped by the tragedy because last August in the Middle East, he was a passenger on a South Korean airliner flying a course similar to the Baghdad-to-Seoul flight that was destroyed by a time bomb Nov. 29.
Ambassador Clayton McManaway, deputy chief of the State Department's office of counterterrorism, testified there is "compelling evidence" to back up South Korean charges of North Korean responsibility, which are based principally on statements of Kim Hyon Hui, a woman who described herself as a North Korean agent and confessed to planting the bomb.
"Highly trained U.S. officials have met with her and believe she is telling the truth," McManaway said.
He added that Kim, during an interview with U.S. officials, was shown photographs and picked out two men "known to the United States as North Korean agents" as among those who played a role in the airliner bombing. McManaway identified them as a North Korean official stationed in Budapest, who Kim said provided housing for herself and an older male agent during their trip to join the South Korean airline flight in the Middle East, and a North Korean official, who Kim said gave her the order to bomb the airliner.
McManaway said U.S. officials had learned from non-Korean sources that Kim and her companion traveled with coded phone numbers of North Korean missions in Vienna and Belgrade and that U.S. experts concluded that the forged Japanese passports Kim and her companion used were "of such high quality that they were almost certainly prepared by a government intelligence service."
"We have no doubt that North Korea is responsible for this act of mass murder," McManaway said.