June 03, 2011 09:38
North Korea was ready to express vague regret about the loss of South Korean lives in last year's attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island when the two sides met secretly in May, a lawmaker claims.
Park Sun-young of the Liberty Forward Party, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee at the National Assembly, said Thursday she heard this from a credible government source. "North Korean officials even said they would consider making comments that could be interpreted as an apology by South Korea."
But Seoul demanded a stronger apology, and this led to tensions in the secret talks, she said. North Korea on Wednesday revealed that the talks took place and claimed South Korean officials "begged" for a summit and "disgraced" themselves by offering money. It forswore all future contacts with the Lee Myun-bak administration.
But Park said the North was willing to hold at least one summit during the dates proposed by the South. Pyongyang on Wednesday said the South was hoping for a series of three summits between June and next March.
She said the South did hand over US$10,000. "Each of the five North Korean officials was given $2,000 to cover transport and hotel costs, and this appears to have offended them," she said.
She added there were two more contacts with North Korea in December last year and March this year in Southeast Asia. "The meeting last month had to take place in a different place (Beijing) than originally planned due to circumstances affecting our side," she said, "and the money was paid to compensate them for expenses incurred due to the change."
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