South Korea calls North’s talks proposal insincere

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SEOUL - South Korea Tuesday reiterated its doubts over the sincerity of North Korea’s recent offers of talks to reduce tensions between the two countries, sticking to its condition that Pyongyang must first apologize for recent attacks.

“North Korea, which threatened war until a month ago, is now calling for unconditional talks,” Unification Minister Hyun In Taek said in Seoul.

“However, North Korea is still blaming us for strains in South-North relations and does not acknowledge any responsibility for the sacrifices of our people due to their provocations,” he said.

“The government cannot read sincerity for talks in such an attitude.”

North Korea on Nov 23 shelled the South’s Yeonpyeong Island near the disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea, killing two marines and two civilians.

South Korea also blames North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March that killed 46 sailors. The North denies any responsibility for that incident.

Hyun said before any inter-Korean dialogue can take place, North Korea must apologize for shelling the island and sinking the warship. In addition, Pyongyang must demonstrate that it is serious about nuclear disarmament.

“Without these, inter-Korean dialogue cannot move smoothly,” he said, refusing to conduct “talks for talks’ sake”.

North Korea has repeatedly called for economic talks in recent weeks, which the South refuses to hold unless the North agrees to add its nuclear programmes to the agenda.

Hyun’s statement came as Chinese President Hu Jintao was preparing to depart his country for Washington for his summit with US President Barack Obama set for Wednesday. North Korea is likely to feature in their discussions.

Filed under: Diplomacy

Tags: , ,
will not be displayed