Frozen ties Seoul’s fault, North claims

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Frozen ties Seoul’s fault, North claims

North Korea continued to blame South Korea for the current stalemate in inter-Korean relations, saying Seoul must halt its joint military exercises with the United States if it wants to see bilateral ties improved.

In a statement released Wednesday by North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, Pyongyang reiterated its demand that Seoul cease joint military drills with Washington, which it has long defined as a preparation for war against the regime.

“If the South wants to hold talks with us, then it must create conditions suitable for having such a talk,” an unnamed spokesman of the committee said in the statement.

“The South must immediately discard joint preparations for war against us with the U.S. and stop blindly following anti-North policies pursued by Washington,” it continued.

The North’s announcement Wednesday follows repeated calls from Pyongyang for the Park Geun-hye administration to end the annual exercises, namely the Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which add to tensions each year on the Korean Peninsula.

Korea and the United States have brushed off the demands, saying they are defensive in nature against the potential military provocations from North Korea.

The North’s demand comes as the two Koreas have failed to see a breakthrough in bilateral ties.

While Seoul has repeatedly called on Pyongyang to negotiate sans preconditions about possibly lifting a package of economic sanctions imposed on it in retaliation for the 2010 sinking of the ROK Cheonan warship, the North has yet to show interest.

The Communist state has demanded South Korea stop its joint military exercises, which it says would provide a conducive atmosphere for the two sides to meet.

In response, the government said Thursday it was deeply regrettable that Pyongyang continues to make such “undue” demands and smear the Seoul government. It also made it clear that it has no intention of accepting the North’s appeals.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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