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S. Korea presses N. Korea to address provocations ahead of six-party talks

All Headlines 11:13 May 04, 2011

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea warned Wednesday that inaction by North Korea over its provocative behavior against Seoul last year would "negatively" influence the prospect for the resumption of six-party nuclear negotiations that Pyongyang has been pushing for.

Since South Korea found North Korea responsible for the sinking of one of its warships and North Korea bombarded a South Korean island last year, Seoul has been demanding Pyongyang apologize before the South can agree to reopen the stalled six-party talks.

The North denies any role in the sinking that killed 46 South Korean sailors in March. The communist state also argues that the South provoked it to shell Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea in November.

"North Korea's response over the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong shelling is an important factor that influences the resumption of six-party talks," which also include the U.S., Japan, Russia and China, Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement came after a local media report quoted a senior government official saying that the South was willing to hold bilateral denuclearization talks with the North even if Pyongyang did not issue apologies for last year's deadly incidents.

The statement, however, did not tie the incidents to denuclearization talks between the divided countries, saying the South would "review" its position in line with the North's action.

Despite the growing prospect for the first-ever talks between the Koreas to focus on the North's nuclear arms ambitions, Pyongyang has yet to issue a proposal while Seoul continues to wait.

Following a meeting with his North Korean counterpart in Beijing a month ago, China's nuclear envoy Wu Dawei proposed that the two Koreas first hold denuclearization talks as part of a series of steps toward the resumption of the six-party negotiations.

Relations between the Koreas remain at the worst point in years after the Cheonan sinking and Yeonpyeong bombardment. The sides remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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