‘Let’s talk,’ says North, once, twice, three times

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‘Let’s talk,’ says North, once, twice, three times

North Korea sent three more appeals for talks with the South yesterday, asking for a dialogue on the industrial park in Kaesong and on the frozen tours to Mount Kumgang.

But the Ministry of Unification maintained its tough stance saying none will happen until the North takes responsibility for the Cheonan sinking and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

“The government’s stance was already announced through a Dec. 10 statement,” said a Unification Ministry official. “In the current state of affairs between North and South Korea, talks need to be held on two things first,” referring to the two attacks.

North Korea sent three statements yesterday through the Kaesong Industrial District Development Committee. The first was from the North’s General Scenic Spots Development and Guidance Bureau asking to hold talks on Feb. 11 in Kaesong on the subject of restarting tourism to Mount Kumgang. The second request was for working-level talks in Kaesong on Feb. 9 to discuss the industrial park.

The third, sent from the chief of the North’s side of the Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation, expressed regret over the South’s decision not to send anyone to the office, located in Kaesong, which was reopened by the North yesterday. In the statement, the North once again urged South Korea to return to “normal operations.”

None of the statements mentioned the Cheonan sinking in March, which Pyongyang denies being behind, or the Yeonpyeong Island attack in November. The statements were sent after the North reopened communication lines in Kaesong and at Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border.

According to the Unification Ministry, the two Koreas engaged in a 10 minute telephone call to confirm that the lines were operating. “We delivered a message to the operator on the North’s side, saying that North Korea should refrain from making unilateral decisions on cutting communication lines and restoring them,” said a ministry official yesterday. The North did not respond to the message.

North Korea had sent a similar set of three statements Monday requesting talks with specific dates and venues. The Unification Ministry spokesman responded by saying that there would be no parley between the two Koreas until Pyongyang took responsibility for last year’s attacks as well as the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist at Mount Kumgang in 2008.

The spokesman, Chun Hae-sung, also made an offer for talks to “confirm the North’s will to denuclearize.” The North has not officially responded to the spokesman’s request for talks on the attacks or denuclearization, said the ministry.

By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

“내달 금강산 회담 열자” 제의

북한이 남북 당국 대화에 앞서 천안함 폭침과 연평도 공격에 대한 책임 있는 조치를 취하라는 우리 정부의 요구에도 불구하고 당국 회담을 거듭 제의하고, 정당·단체를 대상으로 유화공세를 펼치고 있다. 12일 통일부에 따르면 북한은 이날 개성공단관리위원회를 통해 통일부에 보낸 명승지종합개발지도국 명의의 통지문에서 “2월 11일 개성에서 금강산 관광 재개를 위한 회담을 개최하자”고 제의했다. 또 중앙특구개발지도총국의 통지문에서는 “2월 9일 개성에서 개성공업지구 사업과 관련한 실무회담을 열자”고 주장했다. 그러나 정부가 10일 추가 도발 방지에 대한 확약과 비핵화에 대한 진정성 확인을 위한 당국 간 회담을 역제안한 데 대해서는 아무런 언급을 하지 않았다.

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