Seoul tells North to change attitude

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Seoul tells North to change attitude

NEW YORK - South Korea’s acting foreign minister urged North Korea to take responsibility for the deadly sinking of a warship, refrain from further provocations and forsake its nuclear ambitions, saying Seoul is ready for dialogue and cooperation if Pyongyang’s attitude changes.

Minister Shin Kak-soo made the remarks Saturday during an address at the UN General Assembly in New York, pledging that South Korea will work with the international community to get North Korea to make the “right choice that would ensure a better future for both its country and people.”

“To depart from sanctions and isolation, North Korea should make the strategic decision to live up to its commitments to denuclearization,” Shin told the assembly. “A nuclear-free North Korea would also open an avenue to saving its people from the current miserable human rights and humanitarian situation.”

North Korea has stayed away from the six-party talks on its nuclear programs for almost two years and conducted a nuclear test and a series of missile launches. In late March, the South Korean warship Cheonan was sunk in waters near its western sea border, killing 46 sailors. South Korea blames the North for the sinking.

Pyongyang has denied any involvement in the sinking, though a multinational probe determined its culpability. “North Korea must take responsibility for its unprovoked attack and refrain from any further provocations,” Shin said.

In recent months, the North has been signaling its willingness to return to the negotiating table while making a series of peace overtures to Seoul and Washington amid toughened sanctions on the impoverished regime in the wake of the ship sinking.

South Korea and the U.S., however, have been urging the regime to show proof through action that it is serious about abandoning its nuclear programs if it wants to reopen the nuclear talks. The nuclear talks involve the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. “Once North Korea demonstrates a genuine change in its behavior and attitude, my government is prepared to engage in meaningful dialogue and cooperation with North Korea,” Shin said.

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