N.Korea Still Open to High-Level Talks

      October 13, 2014 09:53

      North Korea on Sunday said there is "still an opportunity to make a choice" so high-level talks with South Korea can go ahead. The North earlier threatened to cancel the talks because activists here continue to float propaganda leaflets across the border.

      The North on Friday fired heavy gun rounds at the balloons carrying the leaflets, alarming some who feared the shots were aimed at the activists themselves. On Saturday the North accused the South of "irresponsible and defiant" acts and threatened to call off the talks.

      But a North Korean spokesman on Sunday only said South Korea should "respect" the North and refrain from acts that "pour cold water" on improving relations.

      A delegation of top North Korean officials visited South Korea on Oct. 4, led by Hwang Pyong-so, a vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission, and agreed to hold high-level talks late this month or in early November.

      But three days later, a North Korean patrol boat apparently deliberately violated the de-facto maritime border.

      Kim Yong-hyun at Dongguk University said the provocations were "controlled military displays" aimed at placing the Northern Limit Line and propaganda leaflets on the agendas of upcoming talks.

      But other experts say North Korea is not really interested in talks with South Korea. Kim Seung, a former policy adviser to the unification minister, said North Korea is trying to "tame" the Park Geun-hye administration by offering an olive branch only to resort immediately to provocations.

      Yoo Dong-yeol of the Korean Institute of Liberal Democracy said the North merely wants to create political division within South Korea.

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