Seoul anticipates Pyongyang’s response to dialogue offer

Seoul, Dec 14 (IANS) Seoul is anticipating Pyongyang’s positive response to its expected dialogue offer, though it has no detailed plan yet for such proposal, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Monday.

“There is nothing being reviewed as of now” about whether to make a proposal to Pyongyang for the next round of inter-governmental talks “as the talks just ended on Saturday,” Xinhua quoted Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee as saying.

Seoul and Pyongyang held vice ministers’ talks in North Korea’s border city of Kaesong from Friday to Saturday, ending up without any agreement.

The spokesman said that South Korea “is anticipating (North Korea’s) positive response to follow-up dialogue offer,” indicating Seoul’s future proposal sometime next year though not in the near term.

Jeong said Seoul will build foundations for peaceful reunification through open-minded talks with Pyongyang while improving inter-Korean relations.

During the two-day talks, South Korea called on North Korea to discuss the reunion of Korean families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, while proposing to hold a separate working-level dialogue to discuss the resumption of tour to Pyongyang’s scenic resort of Mount Kumgang.

Jeong cited North Korea’s consistent adherence to resumption of the tourism project as the reason for failure of the dialogue.

Seoul has claimed that the humanitarian event of family reunion and the tourism project resumption cannot be linked together.

The tour, launched 1998, was halted in July 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier after allegedly venturing into an off-limits area.

North Korea on Saturday blamed Seoul for the breakdown of the vice ministerial level talks.

The official KCNA news agency said Pyongyang side has “made every possible sincere effort” and offered “constructive proposals” to tackle some of the most urgent and realisable issues.

The South Korean side, however, rejected discussion of several core issues including the resumption of the Mount Kumgang tour and made unreasonable assertions, which caused the talks to bear no fruits, the state media said.

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