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S. Korea urges N. Korea to come forward for talks

March 2, 2012 - 14:26 By Korea Herald
South Korea’s point man on North Korea urged Pyongyang Friday to accept Seoul’s recent offers for talks amid cautious optimism following a nuclear deal between North Korea and the United States.

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.

“We urge North Korea again to quickly respond to our proposal for dialogue,” Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a ceremony marking the 43rd anniversary of the ministry’s foundation.

Yu’s comment came two days after North Korea and the U.S. announced a set of deals reached in their high-level talks in Beijing last week.

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

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

In Washington, the State Department confirmed Thursday that North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho plans to visit New York next week for an academic forum, though no meeting with U.S. officials is scheduled.

Yu’s latest offer also came as North Korea ratcheted up verbal threats against South Korea over its ongoing military exercises with the U.S. that Pyongyang says are rehearsals for a northward invasion.

The North’s Foreign Ministry said earlier this week Pyongyang is “fully ready for both dialogue and war.” Last week, the North vowed to launch a “sacred war” against the South and the U.S. 

(Yonhap News)