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SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) — South Korea pressed North Korea Friday to resume bilateral talks, saying it is leaving the door open to any type of dialogue.
Seoul’s unification ministry said it is important for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table following leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Day pledge to make every effort to improve inter-Korean ties.
“The North will have to engage in dialogue without attaching preconditions if it has a genuine will for the improvement of South-North ties,” ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at a press briefing.
He affirmed that the Seoul government is not restricting the format of talks with North Korea.
On Monday, the South’s presidential committee on reunification offered ministerial talks with the North in January aimed at discussing all pending issues including the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
Seoul earlier proposed another round of dialogue represented by vice minister-level officials but Pyongyang rejected the offer in protest at the cross-border spread of anti-communist leaflets by activists here.
The ministry official also said the South will continue its regular joint military drills with the United States despite the North’s call for a halt to them.
The North’s leader mentioned the exercises in his Thursday address, branding them a source of mistrust between the two Koreas hampering sincere dialogue.
“The government will maintain a principles-based approach toward North Korea’s unilateral claim on the issue,” Lim said.
There is no plan for the South to make a change with regard to the schedule of the joint defense drills, he added.
Another ministry official said on background that Seoul will at least wait for Pyongyang’s response in the coming days as the ball is clearly in its court.
Source : The Korea Herald