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DPRK doubts possibility of improving inter-Korean relations after cancelling talks in Seoul

June 13, 2013, 12:56 UTC+3

The reason for cancelling the official talks in Seoul "is not so much the level of the delegations’ heads, as South Korea’s desire to continue the policy of confrontation"

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PYONGYANG, June 13 (Itar-Tass) - Seoul’s provocative actions call into question the possibility of improving relations between the North and South, “even if the negotiations on this issue take place in the future.” This statement was made on Thursday by a representative of the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.

The document notes that the reason for cancelling the official talks in Seoul that were scheduled for June 12 “is not so much the level of the delegations’ heads, as South Korea’s desire to continue the policy of confrontation towards the compatriots in the North.”

The statement says that South Korea has repeatedly reaffirmed the intention to send to the negotiations the unification minister. However, at the last moment it unexpectedly appointed his deputy as the head of the delegation. Pyongyang also calls “unjustified” the requirement put forward by the South to send as North’s delegation head a secretary of one of the departments of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). A politician of this level “has never in the history of inter-Korean dialogue participated in the negotiations between officials of the North and the South,” the document says. Therefore, head of the secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea was appointed head of the North Korean delegation.

In addition, the statement says, the South Korean side during preliminary working contacts at the Panmunjom border checkpoint in the demilitarised zone was hampering the inclusion in the Seoul talks’ agenda of the issue of joint events on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration of June 15 between the North and the South and another anniversary of the Joint Statement of the North and the South of 1972. Seoul has taken a similar position towards North Korea’s proposal to resume contacts, visits and cooperation within the framework of non-governmental organisations.

As a result, the North Korean Committee said, as a result of the talks in Panmunjom that lasted 16 hours, the parties could make public “far from a full press release instead of a full-fledged agreement.”

On June 9, representatives of the DPRK and South Korea held working talks aimed at discussing the possible ways of normalising relations between the two countries. The bilateral meeting was held in Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone, where the truce agreement that ended the Korean War was signed in 1953.

On June 7, North Korea opened a communication channel with South Korea to agree on the time and place of the bilateral meeting. The line was closed by Pyongyang in March 2013 in response to large-scale US-South Korean manoeuvres. Earlier, North Korea proposed to South Korea to discuss a number of pressing problems in the interests of improving relations.

They talked on the normalisation of the work of the joint industrial zone in the border city of Kaesong (North Korea), the resumption of the travel of South Korean tourists to the Kumgangsan resort area, as well as on continuing meetings of the families that were separated by the Korean War (1950-1953) and a number of other problems.

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