North backs out of parley with UN Command

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North backs out of parley with UN Command

North Korea cancelled a working-level meeting with the U.S.-led UN Command in Seoul yesterday morning, saying it wasn’t ready, the UN Command said yesterday.

The meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. at the truce village of Panmunjom, would have been the first meeting between the two sides since the March 26 sinking of South Korean naval ship Cheonan. The UN command hoped that the meeting would be followed by a general-level meeting.

In a statement, the UN Command said the North requested a delay of the colonel-level meeting for administrative reason. The North did not set a new date for a meeting, it said.

General-level meetings are attended by generals.

The UN Command suggested a working-level military meeting with the North on June 26. The North accepted the proposal last Friday, and proposed it to be held on July 13, the UN Command said.

The North’s initial scheduling of the meeting drew attention as a possible change in the North’s position on the Cheonan issue. The North had earlier refused to talk with the UN Command, which it said would repeat its position that a Korea-led multinational investigation in May concluded that a Northern torpedo blew up the Cheonan.

The North denies involvement in the sinking, which resulted in the death of 46 South Korean sailors.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said North Korean foreign minister Pak Ui-chun is planning to attend the Asean Regional Forum on July 23 in Vietnam. It will be the first time since the ship’s sinking that foreign ministers from the six countries involved in North Korea denuclearization talks will meet. The other countries are South Korea, China, the U.S., Japan and Russia. Foreign ministers of 27 countries will be at the meeting.

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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