January 11, 2011 09:22
Seoul on Monday urged Pyongyang to come to the table and discuss North Korea's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan in March and its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November last year. The call came in response to a demand from Pyongyang for "unconditional talks."
"For genuine dialogue between two Koreas, the North should take responsible steps over the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, promise not to provoke again, and show sincerity in denuclearization," the government said in a statement.
It was responding to a formal request for various inter-Korean talks from Pyongyang on Monday.
Following a statement last Saturday by a spokesman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the North's Asia Pacific Peace Committee, the chairman of the Red Cross central committee, and the North Korean director of the inter-Korean economic cooperation council on Monday sent a message each through the joint Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex management office.
They called for working-level talks in Kaesong on Jan. 27 and Red Cross talks in Munsan, South Korea on Feb. 1. They said the North will reopen the Red Cross channels at the truce village of Panmunjom and the inter-Korean economic cooperation council office in Kaesong on Wednesday. The North had closed them when Seoul suspended inter-Korean trade and aid supplies on May 24 last year in response to the sinking of the Cheonan.
But Seoul regards the charm offensive as "a tactic aimed at the international community and a typical ruse to create a schism in South Korean society," a Unification Ministry spokesman said. "The North has used this kind of tactic scores of times to turn the situation to its advantage."
A South Korean tourist was shot dead at the Mt. Kumgang tourist resort in July 2008, 46 sailors died in the sinking, and two marines and two civilians were killed on Yeonpyeong Island, but the North admitted no responsibility, the statement added.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com