In the News – S. Korea urges N. Korea to come forward for dialogue

In the News – S. Korea urges N. Korea to come forward for dialogue

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s point man on North Korea urged Pyongyang Friday to come forward for talks in an apparent move to ease tensions as the two sides exchanged militaristic rhetoric.

Last month, South Korea proposed holding two separate meetings with North Korea to discuss reunions of separated family members and joint pest control near ancient tombs in the isolated country. The North has yet to reply to the offers.

“I urge North Korea again to come forward for dialogue as soon as its internal situation stabilizes,” Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a forum attended by hundreds of former lawmakers.

He indicated that North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un has yet to completely consolidate the power he inherited upon the December death of his father, Kim Jong-il.

Yu has made similar charm offensives in recent months, but the latest one came as North Korea repeatedly threatened to launch a “sacred” war against South Korea over Seoul’s defamation of the dignity of the two Kims.

South Korea has vowed to retaliate against North Korea if provoked again.

The North’s move came amid cautious optimism following a recent nuclear deal between North Korea and the United States.

Under the agreement, Pyongyang has agreed to freeze its uranium-enrichment facilities and temporarily halt its nuclear and long-range missile tests in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid.

The North has also agreed to allow the return of monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon.

North Korea and U.S. officials held talks in Beijing earlier this week to work out details of the U.S. food aid.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Thursday that the officials had a pretty good round, indicating no major hurdles lie ahead.

“I think we are cautiously optimistic that this is going to work out, that we’ll be able to deliver the nutritional assistance,” Nuland said.

Yu dismissed concerns among some South Koreans that North Korea could engage in talks only with the U.S. by shunning any contact with South Korea.

In New York, the top nuclear envoys of the two Koreas met several times in an academic forum, though no serious talks have occurred during the latest sign of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The forum is set to end on Friday.

Original article can be found here

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