February 04, 2011 10:27
North Korea's parliament has sent a letter to its South Korean counterpart proposing direct talks between the two legislative bodies.
North Korea's official KCNA news agency reported the overture Thursday, saying the letter represented the "steadfast will" of the North Korean lawmakers "to defuse the acute situation on the Korean peninsula." It said they hope to "open up a new phase for peace and reunification."
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a spokesman for the National Assembly in Seoul saying officials will review the letter when it arrives and "properly decide a reaction."
The letter is the latest in a series of peace overtures from North Korea following a period of high tension sparked by the North's artillery attack on a South Korean island in late November.
The two sides agreed Tuesday to hold working-level military talks beginning Feb. 8 to set an agenda for higher-level meetings, perhaps between the two country's defense ministers.
South Korea says the success of the talks will depend on whether North Korea accepts responsibility for the Nov. 23 attack on Yeonpyeong Island and the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March.
North Korea has agreed to discuss the incidents but denies involvement in the Cheonan sinking. It says South Korea provoked the assault on Yeonpyeong by firing into disputed waters during a military exercise.
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