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Iran Press TV

South Korea regrets North's refusal of talks

Iran Press TV

Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:56AM

South Korea has expressed regret at North Korea's rejection of its recent proposals for holding a dialog at different levels.

South Korea's Parliament Speaker Chung Ui-Hwa on Friday made his offer for talks with his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong-Nam as the two countries are set to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean Peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonial rule on August 15.

On the same day, South Korea's Defense Ministry called on Pyongyang to participate in September's Seoul Defense Dialogue, a security forum to which some 30 countries have been invited.

North Korea, however, rejected the two proposals and described them as "shameless" efforts to cover up Seoul's hostile policy toward Pyongyang.

South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee told reporters on Monday, "We find it very regrettable that the North rejected the offers... and disparaged our efforts to have dialog."

"We hope that the North will respond to our offers for talks and take the path for... progress of inter-Korea ties," Jeong said.

Resentment on both sides

The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of military rhetoric since the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. No peace deal has been signed since then, meaning that Pyongyang and Seoul remain technically at war. Tensions between the two countries remain high.

North Korea is critical of the annual military drills between South Korea and the United States, calling them rehearsals for war. Every year, South Korean and US soldiers perform massive military exercises right across the border from North Korea.

Pyongyang has also been infuriated by the opening of a new UN office in Seoul last month to monitor the North's human rights record.

Seoul, for its part, blames North for the tensions, citing a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests as well as what it calls nuclear threats.

On-and-off talks

On July 16, officials from North and South Korea held rare talks over a prolonged wage dispute at a jointly operated border area known as the Kaesong industrial zone. A senior South Korean Unification Ministry official, Lee Sang-Min, heading a five-member government delegation, met with his counterpart Pak Chol-Su.

The last round of high-level talks between Seoul and Pyongyang was held in February 2014.

The results of the negotiations saw, for the first time in three years, the North hosting a reunion between separated families in the same month.

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