North says no to UN talks

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North says no to UN talks

North Korea rejected a proposal by the UN Command in Seoul that they hold an official meeting to discuss the Cheonan incident, according to the military.

Instead, the North has suggested an inter-Korean meeting to discuss the issue, the military said.

In a letter sent to the UN Command in Seoul late Sunday, an unidentified representative of the North in charge of general-level meetings with the UN Command Military Armistice Commission said a suggestion made by the UN Command to have a meeting about the Cheonan incident is “absurd.”

The North said the UN Command would base its arguments on a recent multinational investigation that accused the North of sinking the Cheonan with a torpedo.

The UN Command and North Korea have held general-level meetings 16 times since the two parties agreed to such meetings in 1998 in an effort to build mutual trust. Either side can request a meeting, and the last one was held in March 2009.

The U.S.-led UN Command oversees the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.

The proposal comes at a time when Seoul is trying to get the UN Security Council to condemn North Korea for the Cheonan attack.

South Korea considers the Cheonan sinking a military provocation from the North and thus a breach of the armistice agreement. Therefore, according to the South, the UN Command should get involved, and North Korea should accept the meeting.

In Sunday’s letter, the North repeated its demand that its own inspectors be allowed to go to South Korea to “uncover the truth of the sinking of a ship.” Then, a meeting between the two Koreas, not a meeting involving the UN Command, would be held, it said.

“Our plan is to dispatch our inspection team to South Korea and then hold a North-South high ranking military official meeting based on the result [of an inspection by the team],” said a statement from the North.

In response, the South Korean Defense Ministry released a statement yesterday saying, “We estimate this as a move to incapacitate the Armistice Regime. The Cheonan incident should be dealt within the frame of the Armistice Agreement.”


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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