N.Korea Slams Doors on Cross-Border Military Talks

      February 10, 2011 08:56

      The North Korean delegation walks toward the venue of the inter-Korean military talks at the truce village of Panmunjom on Wednesday. /Courtesy of the Defense Ministry

      Colonels from North Korea stormed out of preparatory talks with South Korea on Wednesday in a furious denial of two deadly attacks on the South last year. A mere 10 minutes after the afternoon session started, the North Koreans reportedly shouted, "The Cheonan incident has nothing to do with us" and claimed the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette that killed 46 sailors "was a plot by the U.S. to justify the inter-Korean standoff."

      The North Korean also claimed the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island "was provoked." Yet on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, the North Koreans had calmly discussed the agenda of putative high-level military talks, saying the North would "take all measures to resolve any concerns South Korea has" about Pyongyang's role in the two attacks. Seoul has said the North must apologize for the attacks and pledge to prevent a recurrence before anything else can be discussed.

      But they suddenly flipped on Wednesday afternoon, prompting suspicion that they had been instructed to do so by their superiors during the lunch break. The talks collapsed with no date set for their resumption.

      "The working-level talks progressed calmly on Tuesday and this morning, but in the afternoon, the North Koreans spoke as if they had made a decision and we believe they have given us their stance on the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island after deciding that it would be difficult to discuss the matters," chief South Korean delegate Col. Moon Sang-kyun told reporters. "We tried to ascertain how sincere the North is and discovered in the afternoon that there has been no change in its stance at all."

      Meanwhile, the Unification Ministry announced on Wednesday it will agree to a North Korean proposal for Red Cross talks, but the collapse of the military talks makes it unlikely they will take place.

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