S Korea Prepares for Drills With US, But Urges North to Return to Negotiations
14:40 15.10.2017(updated 15:46 15.10.2017)
South Korean parliament speaker and a North Korean parliamentarian are both attending the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly. Seoul urges talks, Pyongyang refuses due to the upcoming US-South Korean joint drills on the Peninsula and political pressure.
"I once again call on North Korea to return to the negotiating table and to resolve the problem [of the Korean Peninsula] in the near future," Speaker of the South Korean Parliament Chung Sye-kyun said at the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in St. Petersburg.
At the same time, a North Korean delegation member claimed it is impossible to "even talk" about negotiations due to the unprecedented pressure from Washington, and also taking into account the upcoming exercises of South Korea and the United States on the Korean Peninsula. He underlined that his delegation had no plans to meet with South Korean parliamentarians.
On Saturday, Chung Sye-kyun also told Sputnik that the delegation of South Korea was not planning to hold a meeting with the delegation of North Korea on the sidelines of the summit.
The statement comes as the US, South Korea joint drills are set to kick off on Monday, October 16. Earlier, the US flew two B-1B strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula and test-fired ground-attack missiles. Moreover, the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered US submarine, has arrived in the South Korean port of Busan amid the ongoing escalation of tensions.
Pyongyang has responded to the war games by saying that the US and South Korea "ignite an aggressive nuclear war against us," calling the arrival of B-1B bombers and nuclear submarines "reckless military provocation." Moreover, media reports suggested that North Korea is allegedly preparing for a missile launch amid the US-South Korea drills.
Russia Still Urges Parties to Hold Bilateral Meeting
Russia's St. Petersburg is currently hosting the 137th IPU Assembly that kicked off on October 14 and will continue until October 18. As both parties attend the event, Russian Parliament's upper house Speaker Valentina Matvienko will propose once again on Monday to hold a meeting between the delegations, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said Sunday.
"Valentina Ivanovna Matvienko will reiterate this proposal during tomorrow meetings [with South, North Korean delegations]. If such antagonistic countries might meet anywhere, then it should be in a parliamentary format and, of course, on the sidelines of the IPU," Kosachev said.
Kosachev added that the possibility of such a meeting remained as there was no information that the meeting would not be held.
The situation around North Korea has escalated in recent months, following a series of missile and nuclear tests by the country. In September, the UNSC unanimously passed a new round of sanctions in retaliation for North Korea's most powerful nuclear test ever conducted on September 3. The US imposed its own sanctions against North Korea on September 21; the sanctions target Pyongyang's information technology, manufacturing industries, as well as fishing and textiles.
This summer Russia and China proposed the so-called "double freeze" plan aimed at the settlement of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. According to the plan, North Korea should stop nuclear tests, while Washington and Seoul should refrain from joint drills to ease tensions. However, the US rejected the plan, while there was no official response from Pyongyang. Last week, the Russian presidential aide said that the plan is still on the table.
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