Seoul calls for Pyongyang’s denuclearisation stance before talks

Seoul, May 23 (IANS) South Korea on Monday called for North Korea to show its stance on denuclearisation, in response to Pyongyang’s dialogue overtures on military matters over the weekend.

Seoul’s defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Gyun said the ministry sent a reply through a western military hotline to the notice sent on Saturday by North Korea’s Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces.

The Seoul ministry said via the reply that the escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula were caused by North Korea’s provocative acts, expressing regrets over Pyongyang’s military dialogue proposal without any mentioning of its nuclear programme, Xinhua news agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

Seoul called for North Korea’s showing of its stance on denuclearisation before making any dialogue overtures, making it clear that Pyongyang should show its will on denuclearisation through actions if the country really wants peace and stability on the peninsula.

Moon said the South Korean government will hold fast to a basic position that North Korea’s denuclearisation measures will be a top priority in any inter-Korean dialogue.

North Korea sent the notice on Saturday to propose a working-level contact for inter-governmental military talks at a convenient venue and date for both sides between late May and early June to defuse military tensions on the peninsula.

Tensions have been running high on the peninsula after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January, followed by the launch in February of a long-range rocket, which outside world condemned as a disguised test of ballistic missile technology.

UN Security Council adopted tougher-than-ever sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear detonation and long-range rocket launch.

Seoul closed down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the last remaining inter-Korean economic project in North Korea’s border town of Kaesong, as part of independent sanctions against Pyongyang.

North Korea said military authorities of the two Koreas should make straightforward discussions on current issues relevant to possible military conflicts as well as need to agree upon and enforce institutional and legal measures mandatory to taking realistic actions for securing military trust between the two sides.

The notice came a day after North Korea’s National Defence Commission said in an open letter on Friday that South Korea should immediately respond to top North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s proposal for inter-Korean military talks.

Kim mentioned the need for inter-Korean military talks during his speech at North Korea’s seventh congress of its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (DPRK) that lasted for four days through May 9.

Calling the dialogue offer as a “camouflaged” charm offensive, the Seoul ministry spokesman said the proposal failed to include a nuclear issue, the most essential part of inter-Korean relations and peace on the peninsula.

The spokesman said Pyongyang’s dialogue proposal was aimed at weakening the international community’s efforts to tackle its nuclear programme, adding that Seoul’s hasty acceptance of Pyongyang’s dialogue offer may delay North Korea’s denuclearisation process.

Pyongyang’s dialogue overtures were widely expected here in Seoul as North Korea needs to take its “charm offensive” strategy as part of efforts to escape from the sanctions from the international community over its nuclear and rocket provocations for the first two months of this year.



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