N. Korea makes a con­di­tional of­fer for dia­logue with South

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

North Korea said Mon­day that it is ready to restart talks with the South if Seoul scraps joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with the United States.

The of­fer came on the 15th an­niver­sary of a land­mark sum­mit be­tween then South Korean Pres­i­dent Kim Dae-jung and North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong Il which saw a joint dec­la­ra­tion is­sued on rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and co­op­er­a­tion.

“There is no rea­son to avoid dia­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tions if an at­mos­phere for trust and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is cre­ated,” the North said in a gov­ern­ment state­ment car­ried by its of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency. The South should take “bold” steps to re­move ob­sta­cles ham­per­ing dia­logue by scrap­ping joint mil­i­tary drills with the United States and should stop slan­der­ing Py­ongyang’s lead­er­ship, the state­ment said.

North Korea sees an­nual joint U.S.-South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises, most re­cently car­ried out in March and April, as a re­hearsal for in­va­sion. It has pre­vi­ously stip­u­lated an end to the drills is a con­di­tion for talks.

Cross-bor­der ten­sions re­main high this year due to a se­ries of North Korean bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests as well as nu­clear threats.

In a Jan. 1 mes­sage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pro­posed the “high­est-level” talks with the South.

The last round of high-level talks was held in Fe­bru­ary 2014 and re­sulted in the North host­ing a re­u­nion be­tween sep­a­rated fam­i­lies the same month — the first such event for three years.

Seoul has separately sug­gested hold­ing talks with the North, but the prospect for any mean­ing­ful dia­logue is still un­clear.

Seoul has re­jected the North’s fre­quent calls to halt mil­i­tary drills with key ally, the U.S.

It has also re­fused to pave the way for talks by lift­ing sanc­tions im­posed in 2010, say­ing its de­sire to re­sume dia­logue does not ex­tend to “coax­ing” Py­ongyang to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

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