North Korea makes conditional offer for dialogue with South

North Korea makes conditional offer for dialogue with South

The South’s unification ministry reacted with scepticism to the North’s insisting it should come to the dialogue table “without laying out improper preconditions”.



By (AFP)

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 6:01 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Reuters photo

Seoul — North Korea said Monday that it is ready to restart stalled talks with South Korea if Seoul scraps joint military exercises with the United States.

The offer came on the 15th anniversary of a landmark summit between then South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-Il which saw a joint declaration to spur reconciliation and cooperation.

“There is no reason to avoid dialogue and negotiations if an atmosphere for trust and reconciliation is created,” the North said in a government statement carried by its official Korean Central News Agency.

Seoul should take “bold” steps to remove obstacles hampering dialogue by scrapping joint military drills with the United States and should stop slandering Pyongyang’s leadership, the statement said.

“Slandering each other is a venomous practice fostering distrust and hatred towards fellow countrymen and such practice, if unchecked, may lead to physical conflict and war,” it said.

The South’s unification ministry reacted with scepticism to the North’s insisting it should come to the dialogue table “without laying out improper preconditions”.

“North Korea must immediately stop provocative acts ... and create an atmosphere amicable for better ties,” the ministry said in a statement.

Pyongyang sees annual joint US-South Korean military exercises, most recently carried out in March and April, as a rehearsal for invasion. It has previously stipulated an end to the drills as a condition for talks.

Cross-border tensions remain high this year due to a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests as well as nuclear threats.

In a January 1 message North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un proposed the “highest-level” talks with the South.

The last round of formal high-level talks was held in February 2014 and resulted in the North hosting a reunion between separated families the same month — the first such event for three years.

South Korea has separately suggested holding talks with the North, but the prospect for any meaningful dialogue is still unclear.

Seoul has rejected the North’s frequent calls to halt military drills with key ally, the US.

It has also refused to pave the way for talks by lifting sanctions imposed in 2010, saying its desire to resume dialogue does not extend to “coaxing” Pyongyang to the negotiating table. 


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