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Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks Open

Korean Central News Agency of DPRK via Korea News Service (KNS)

    Pyongyang, April 22 (KCNA)--The 18th north-south ministerial talks opened here Saturday. Present at the talks from the north side are members of the delegation headed by Chief Councilor of the Cabinet Kwon Ho Ung and its suite members and from the south side members of the delegation with Minister of Unification Ri Jong Sok as its chief delegate and suite members.
    Kwon Ho Ung and Ri Jong Sok made keynote speeches at the talks. He noted with regret that even with the current talks at hand the south side staged RSOI and Foal Eagle joint military exercises targeted against the dialogue partner. He went on to say: It is the most pressing task to find the earliest possible solutions to these fundamental and principled matters, hurdles lying in the way of improving the inter-Korean relations. A failure to settle these problems would make the ministerial talks meaningless and may put the inter-Korean relations in the danger of freeze. He put forward the north side's proposals to help the north and the south settle principled and fundamental issues in political, military and economic relations. He suggested the authorities of both sides to take practical steps to recognize and respect each other's ideology and system in the basic spirit of the June 15 joint declaration, called for a complete halt to the joint military exercises with foreign forces from January 2007 with a view to defusing the military tension and removing the danger of war and ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula, called upon the authorities of the two sides to perform a responsible role in the efforts to achieve great national unity, urged the north and the south to effect cooperation in the economic field substantially conducive to the prosperity common to the nation and called on the north and the south to take strong joint actions against Japan's moves aimed at infringing upon the Korean nation's sovereignty and dignity.
    In order to bring about a radical turn in the north-south relations it is necessary for the authorities of the two sides to take the measure of allowing persons of one side to freely visit holy places, places of interest and tourist attractions of the other side on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration, he noted, and continued:
    If the south side truly desires peace and reconciliation and cooperation, it should not hesitate to take practical measures for easing the military tension and ensuring peace on the peninsula and make a bold political decision to this end. It is necessary for the north and the south to make it a tradition to significantly celebrate June 15 as "Day of By Our Nation Itself" and for delegations of their authorities to participate as chief players in the grand festival for national reunification to open in the area of the south side on the above-said occasion and thus make it meaningful.
    He called for taking practical measures to ensure investment and cooperation unlimited in terms of region, classification of business and scale, free from foreign interference and restraint.
    The Japanese authorities are now seeking to exercise physical strength to grab Tok Islet, inalienable part of the territory of the Korean nation, asserting that they will search the sea route around the islet, he noted, and said: The north and the south of Korea should take decisive measures to frustrate such moves and thus fulfill their responsibility before the nation and history.
    He expressed the hope that the south side would positively respond to the north side's proposals so that they may reach good agreements that would bring joy and hope to the fellow countrymen desirous of fresh progress in the inter-Korean ties. Then followed a speech of the chief delegate of the south side. Saying that both sides should fully understand each other's stand to promote the bilateral relations and create an atmosphere favorable for reconciliation and peace through close cooperation since there are difficulties in store, he set forth proposals. The talks continue.

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