For 6-party talks, Seoul demands a sincere sign

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For 6-party talks, Seoul demands a sincere sign

South Korea urged Pyongyang to show “sincerity” in its vow to return to nuclear disarmament talks.

Seoul’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, told a press conference yesterday that Pyongyang should not seek “a dialogue for the sake of a dialogue” following reports that an envoy sent to Beijing by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country wanted to go back to six-party talks.

“In regard to North Korea’s expressed desire for a dialogue, we say ‘a dialogue for the sake of a dialogue’ should not be held,” Yun said. “North Korea should show its sincerity with action, abiding by its international obligations and its promises regarding denuclearization.

“For this, we are going to closely cooperate with the countries of the six-party talks and international community,” Yun said. “In order to seek cooperation in this matter, Cho Tae-yong, the newly named South Korean envoy to the six-party talks, will visit the relevant countries in June.”

Yun also said “a vice-ministerial-level meeting between South Korea and China will also take place on June 3-4 in Beijing” to discuss the current situation on the Korean Peninsula.

“Following the successful visit to the United States, President Park [Geun-hye] will visit China at the end of June,” Yun said. “Our government is also in the process of setting up a strategic dialogue among South Korea, the United States and China.”

President Park said she will now concentrate on boosting relations with Beijing.

“Taking as an opportunity the next month’s visit to China, I will achieve close cooperation between Seoul and Beijing to resolve the matter of North Korean affairs,” she said during a meeting with senior Blue House secretaries yesterday. “From now on, I will make North Korea become a responsible member of the international community and have it come to a dialogue.”

On the issue of harsh comments made by the North about President Park Saturday, the Southern government said the remarks were “embarrassing” and urged Pyongyang to tone down its language.

“It’s really embarrassing and shameful in front of the international community which is watching,” Unification Ministry Spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said at a daily briefing. “For inter-Korean relations to develop in the right way, the North should be cautious in its language.”

The North’s Korea Central News Agency Saturday reported that a military spokesman referred Park as “puppet President Park Geun-hye” and criticized her for “reckless and thoughtless remarks” that “reveal [her] atrocious, confrontational true colors.”

Kim said Seoul also decided to say no to a plan for an inter-Korean event to mark the June 15, 2000 summit between two Koreas, which was proposed by a North Korean civic group.

“The North Korean regime has repeatedly refused our proposal to hold inter-Korean working-level talks in regard of the Kaesong Industrial Complex,” Kim said. “However, at the same time, they proposed an inter-Korean event to mark the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration Day, showing a double-standard.”

The All Korean Committee For Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration’s North Korean branch sent a fax to the Southern branch Wednesday to propose a joint commemoration of the upcoming anniversary of the declaration made during the summit between former leaders Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il on Mount Kumgang or in Kaesong city.

The proposal came after Pyongyang turned down Seoul’s proposal for working-level talks to resolve the matter of the shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex.

“If they indeed have an interest in improving inter-Korean relations, they should come back to the negotiation table and restore trust between officials, not contacting our civic groups or organizations,” Kim said.

Political parties in the South had different reaction to the North’s nasty remarks about the president Saturday. The ruling Saenuri Party remained silent. The largest opposition Democratic Party criticized Pyongyang. And the opposition Unified Progressive Party, which has been labeled “pro-Pyongyang,” condemned the president.

“North Korea should be aware that the people of the Republic of Korea [South Korea] would feel insulted by its criticizing President Park Geun-hye,” Kim Han-gill, DP Chairman, said at a meeting with the party supreme councilors yesterday. “The authorities of two Koreas should keep the rule of mutual respect.”

UPP Chairwoman Lee Jung-hee said Park was at fault because she made “hard-line comments” first.

“While Japan sent an envoy to the North and Russia is also mulling over its engagement, President Park met with her U.S. counterpart [President Barack Obama] and made hard-line comments, which narrowed the possibility of a dialogue with Pyongyang,” Lee said at a party meeting yesterday. “It is a repeat of the botched policy of the Lee Myung-bak administration in North Korean affairs.”

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

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