North demands end of sanctions before talks

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North demands end of sanctions before talks

Pyongyang demanded Seoul and Washington stop their “provocative acts” and withdraw all sanctions on the regime in exchange for dialogue.

The National Defense Commission, North Korea’s top decision-making body chaired by leader Kim Jong-un, issued a statement yesterday in response to repeated requests from South Korea and the United States for dialogue to calm tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In the statement, Pyongyang demanded an end to the UN sanctions imposed on its entities and individuals if they truly want dialogue and negotiations.

“They have to immediately stop all of the provocative acts conducted against us and apologize for them,” it said.

“First, they will have to take a measure to withdraw the UN Security Council’s ‘resolutions’ that were manipulated with ridiculous reasons.”

The latest sanctions, UNSC resolution No. 2094, were passed unanimously on March 7 to punish the December rocket launch and the third-ever nuclear weapons test by North Korea, a violation of former resolutions that bans any use of missile technology.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the statement by the commission was “very regrettable” and a “typical, wrongful demand.”

“North Korea would definitely be aware of the fact that this grave situation was prompted by their long-range missile launch and nuclear tests,” a Unification Ministry official told reporters. “They should immediately withdraw the typical and wrongful demand.”

The other preconditions for a talk include abandoning “nuclear war practices” by Seoul and Washington, apparently indicating the ongoing joint military drills in South Korean waters. Pyongyang says the drills are warmongering exercises directed at the North, while the allies say they are routine for self-defense of the South.

The commission also demanded Washington withdraw “all nuclear war measures deployed in South Korea and neighboring regions,” pointing at the 30,000 U.S. forces stationed in the South and other overseas bases, such as those on Guam or Japan.

Although it didn’t explicitly name South Korean President Park Geun-hye in the statement, the commission said “the madam in the Blue House should not forget that her future will be ruined if she takes the U.S. nuclear umbrella.”

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a mouthpiece of the North Korean regime regarding Southern affairs, also said on the same day that “there would never be any dialogue between the North and the South as long as the puppet groups continue their warmongering drills and impose anti-DPRK sanctions.”

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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