North Korea rejects South's talks call

2013-04-14 16:47
A South Korean soldier uses a viewer to look at the North side from a South Korean observation post in Paju near the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas. (File, AFP)

A South Korean soldier uses a viewer to look at the North side from a South Korean observation post in Paju near the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas. (File, AFP)

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Pyongyang - North Korea on Sunday rebuffed a South Korean proposal to resolve rising tensions through dialogue, dismissing it as a "crafty trick" by its rival.

Tensions have been high on the Korean Peninsula for weeks, with Pyongyang threatening to attack Seoul and Washington for conducting joint military drills and for supporting UN sanctions imposed on North Korea for a February nuclear test.

While the threats are largely seen as rhetoric, US and South Korean officials have said they believe North Korea may test-fire a mid-range missile designed to reach the US territory of Guam.

Pyongyang also took a direct shot at Seoul by pulling more than 50 000 North Korean workers from their joint factory park in the border city of Kaesong and denying South Koreans access to the complex just north of the Demilitarized Zone.

The move has brought the South Korean-run factories to a standstill, threatening a shutdown of the last joint project left between the two Koreas.

Last Thursday, Seoul pressed Pyongyang to discuss restarting operations at the factory park. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has promoted seeking peace with North Korea, a change in policy from the hard-line stance of her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak.

But on Sunday, North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said Pyongyang has no intention of talking with Seoul unless it abandons its confrontational posture.

South Korea's presidential Blue House said North Korea's rebuttal of its dialogue offer was "very regrettable." A Blue House statement urged North Korea to take responsible measures to help relieve difficulties facing South Koreans working at the joint factory park.

The two Koreas technically remain at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The US keeps about 28 500 troops in South Korea to help deter potential aggression by the North.

Read more on:    south korea  |  north korea

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