June 12, 2013 10:11
The presidential office on Tuesday criticized North Korea for trying to blackmail the South into agreeing to its terms for negotiations and called on the North to change its behavior if it really wants constructive dialogue.
Cheong Wa Dae was referring to North Korean attempts to engineer a meeting between the South Korean unification minister and a lower-ranking North Korean official, which might have signaled that Pyongyang has Seoul over a barrel.
When this failed, North Korea abruptly canceled the talks scheduled to start Wednesday.
"Have you seen North Korea act this way in its dealings with the international community?" a Cheong Wa Dae official asked rhetorically in a press briefing Tuesday night. "It would have been proper to approach the talks with sincerity and mutual respect, since the meeting would have been the first inter-Korean contact since the launch of the Park Geun-hye administration, so the North should have appointed a chief delegate of appropriate rank."
President Park did not convene a meeting to deal with the situation but left the response to the Cheong Wa Dae national security team and the Unification Ministry.
"The president had no particular response," a Cheong Wa Dae official said. "The preparations for the talks were entirely transparent, and the public probably shares our views on the matter."
The official said if any inter-Korean talks take place they will have to be based on a modicum of mutual respect and trust. "We must meet with North Korea on an equal footing. No matter what previous administrations did, talks from now on must be held under normal conditions and based on common sense."
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