News Column

North Korea Willing to Talk, With Conditions

April 18, 2013
KIm Jong-Un (file photo)
KIm Jong-Un (file photo)

North Korea has set conditions, including the United States and South Korea withdrawing "all nuclear war making capabilities from the region," ahead of talks.

Pyongyang's National Defense Commission, in a statement reported Thursday by the official Korean Central News Agency, said Washington and Seoul should stop provocations and fully apologize for aggression and give assurances not to carry out nuclear war games designed to intimidate the North.

Separately, Yonhap News quoted the commission as saying, "It is time to withdraw all nuclear war making capabilities from the region and officially proclaim such devices will not be reintroduced (back into South Korea) down the line."

The statements from North Korea come after days of highly provocative rhetoric, including threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes against South Korea and the United States, restarting an idled nuclear plant and long-range ballistic missile tests.

North Korea is under tough sanctions by the U.N. Security Council for its Feb. 12 nuclear test, its third since 2006 in violation of U.N. resolutions.

South Korea, Japan and the United States remain on alert for any missile test by the North.

Earlier, the North dismissed an offer of dialogue by South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the Unification Ministry.

"Fabrications of truth, like blaming the North for the sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010 and recent Internet hacking of financial institutions and media has to be discontinued," the North's National Defense Commission said in its latest statement, Yonhap reported.

The North's committee responsible for conducting dialogue with the South, in line with the commission, also said enforcing sanctions and challenging the country's space and nuclear development efforts are hostile moves and cannot be tolerated.

The South Korea Unification Ministry of Unification said the North's conditions are nothing new and dismissed them as irresponsible, Yonhap said.

"The North has overlooked or ignored the meaning and intent of talks proposed by Seoul and Washington (once again)," a ministry official said.

Experts told Yonhap the North's call for talks, even with preconditions, may suggest it wants a compromise once joint U.S.-South military exercises end this month.

"The statements may be a call for Seoul not to provoke them any further until dialogue can begin," said Yang Moo-jin, political science professor at the University of North Korean Studies.

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Source: Copyright UPI 2013

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