January 10, 2011 09:12
Seoul continues to reject North Korea's latest charm offensive. The North on Saturday again called for inter-Korean talks through the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland. But the South says it "cannot come to the dialogue table before the North takes responsible steps" over the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
North Korea's recent calls for dialogue do not mention the two attacks nor do they say anything concrete about denuclearization, the goal of inter-Korean talks, a senior government official said Sunday. "They showed no sincerity but apparently tried to gain international support through resumption of six-party nuclear disarmament talks."
Another senior government official also said the proposals "prove that the North is overwhelmed with difficulties due to international sanctions" imposed over its nuclear tests and military provocations.
In Saturday's statement, the North Korean committee called for Red Cross talks, talks to resume package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort, and talks about the joint Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in late January or in early February. It pledged to reopen the Red Cross channel at the truce village of Panmunjom and the economic cooperation office at the Kaesong industrial park as proof of goodwill.
It demanded "unconditional" talks, repeating formula first promoted in a New Year's editorial on Jan. 5.
However, Seoul is reportedly thinking seriously about resuming dialogue if Pyongyang does take action over the military provocations and formally proposes inter-Korean dialogue through government channels. Seoul is also considering a counterproposal to discuss the nuclear issue.
A Unification Ministry official said the South will watch "what attitude the North takes in the future."
The North in the statement complained that the South is "attaching strings to the resumption of dialogue while talking about 'sincerity' without even meeting us. This in itself is not a sincere attitude."
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