January 21, 2011 09:13
North Korea on Thursday called for high-level military talks to South Korea to discuss the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year. The North has pushed for all manner of talks but so far refused to talk about the attacks.
A government spokesman said Seoul would be willing to attend the talks if the agenda includes a promise from the North "to take responsible steps" over the sinking and the artillery attack and "to refrain from further provocations." He added Seoul will propose a preliminary round to discuss the agenda. The government also decided to propose high-level inter-governmental talks to discuss denuclearization.
The North's Minister of the People's Armed Forces Kim Yong-chun sent a message that morning to Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, the Unification Ministry said. The North offered to "express its views on the Cheonan incident and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and discuss ways to reduce military tensions on the Korean Peninsula."
The government will send a formal message to the North. A Unification Ministry official said, "It's still hard to see any sincerity in these proposals, so we'll have to see in working-level talks how sincere they are."
The government has insisted the North must take responsibility for the attacks, promise to prevent further provocations, and take palpable steps toward denuclearization if inter-Korean talks are to resume.
These would be the first cross-border talks since Feb. 8 last year.
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