July 11, 2013 09:28
North Korea on Wednesday abruptly proposed talks about resuming package tours to Mt. Kumgang and reunions of families separated by the Korean War.
The offer came when delegates from both Koreas met in the North Korean border city of Kaesong to discuss reopening the industrial complex there.
The Unification Ministry said the North proposed talks in Mt. Kumgang on July 17 to discuss resuming the package tours and Red Cross talks on July 19 either in Mt. Kumgang or Kaesong to discuss the family reunions.
After consultation with their superiors in Seoul, the South Korean delegates accepted only the proposal for the talks about the family reunions and suggested they be held in the truce village of Panmunjom.
They said it would be too soon to discuss resuming the Mt. Kumgang tours before the question of reopening the Kaeong Industrial Complex has been solved.
Some in the government suspect that the sudden charm offensive from North Korea may have an ulterior motive. The North is keen to mitigate the impact of international sanctions and earn hard currency by any means possible.
Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk merely said, "We hope the North will become a trustworthy dialogue partner and a responsible member of the international community."
Meanwhile, the North warned the South in a separate message around 7 p.m. Wednesday that it is about to discharge water from a sluicegate at the Yesong River power plant to control water levels. On several previous occasions the North has discharged water downriver to South Korea without warning.
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