Seoul refuses to discuss core issues, talks fail

Pyongyang, Dec 13 (IANS) North Korea blamed Seoul for the breakdown of two-day vice ministerial-level talks held at the border city of Kaesong, claiming that South Korea refused to discuss several core issues.

Pyongyang on Saturday “made every possible sincere effort” and offered “constructive proposals” to tackle most urgent and realisable issues such as resumption of tour to North Korea’s scenic spot of Mt Kumgang and reunion of separated families from both sides, the state-run KCNA news agency reported.

The South Korean side rejected discussion of several core issues including the resumption of Mt Kumgang tour and made unreasonable assertions which caused the inter-governmental talks to produce no outcome, KCNA said.

South Korean media earlier reported that the senior-level dialogue, which continued for two days at North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Complex, ended on Saturday without any joint press release.

It also said that the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a schedule for the next round of talks, indicating a de-facto failure.

The two sides “did not reach any agreement,” Hwang Boo-gi, South Korea’s vice unification minister who led the three-member delegation, said.

From the very beginning, the high-level talks showed signs of differences over sensitive issues such as the regular reunion of Korean families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Pyongyang has wanted the resumption of tour to North Korea’s scenic resort of Mt Kumgang. The tour, launched in 1998, was suspended in July 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier for venturing into an off-limit area.

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