June 16, 2015 09:33
North Korea on Monday said there is no need for the two Koreas to avoid talks if an atmosphere of trust and reconciliation is created.
In a statement quoted by its official Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean government said it is "determined to improve inter-Korean relations, which are in a serious crisis, and pave the way for national reconciliation and unity."
This was the first official approach since a surprise visit by senior officials to the Asian Games in July last year.
But the statement stipulated five conditions if dialogue is to resume: "rejecting outside forces" and seeking reunification at the will of the Korean people; no integration of different systems; an end to annual South Korea-U.S. military exercises; an end to propaganda against the North Korean regime; and removing obstacles that stand in the way of exchanges and cooperation -- likely a reference to sanctions.
In response, the Unification Ministry here urged the North to immediately stop creating military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to come to the dialogue table without irrational preconditions.
The North has repeatedly tried to pass the buck to South Korea for the failure of dialogue. The 15th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit on June 15, 2000 passed without a cross-border celebration, and Pyongyang is blaming Seoul.
Prof. Nam Sung-wook of Korea University said the North “attached the conditions because they want to control inter-Korean dialogue for its own ends."
In another hint at a more conciliatory approach, the North told South Korea by fax that two South Koreans who "illegally entered" the North across the border with China in May will be handed over to the South on Wednesday.
"We found that two South Koreans presumed to be a married couple went missing in the border area while traveling in China last month," a government spokesman here said. "We'd been checking with their family what happened."
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