Apology No Precondition for Talks with N.Korea, Seoul Says

      January 27, 2011 10:34

      A senior South Korean government official on Wednesday said an admission from North Korea that it sank the Navy corvette Cheonan or an apology for its shelling of Yeonpyeong Island are "not a precondition to the resumption of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks."

      Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan meets U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg in Seoul on Wednesday.

      The official spoke on the customary condition of anonymity after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg met Foreign Ministry officials to brief them on the latest U.S.-China summit. But the North "has to show through action that it is sincere about denuclearization if the six-party talks are to resume," the official added.

      That marks an apparent U-turn in the government position, which had so far maintained that the North must take "responsible steps" over last year's provocations before inter-Korean talks on other subjects and the six-party talks can resume.

      Quizzed about the discrepancy by reporters, the official said, "The North's failure to admit and apologize for the attacks will inevitably have bad effects on the resumption of the six-party talks. But what is important is a change in the North's attitude."

      Steinberg, commenting on the North's recent charm offensive, said Pyongyang should stop provocative acts and move toward meaningful and sincere dialogue if it wants a constructive relationship with other countries. He warned the North against further provocations but said nothing about an apology for last year's attacks.

      Steinberg moves on to China on Friday, where he will ask for help in taking the North's uranium enrichment program to the UN Security Council.

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