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Pro-Pyongyang newspaper reacts coldly to Lee's invitation

All Headlines 16:25 May 11, 2011

SEOUL, May 11 (Yonhap) -- A pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan claimed on Wednesday that Pyongyang is working hard to achieve denuclearization, but indicated the North is unlikely to accept South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's conditional invitation to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to an international nuclear summit, calling it an "impure attempt."

The comment by Chosun Sinbo, the mouthpiece of the communist regime in Pyongyang, came two days after Lee made the overture in Berlin that he will invite the reclusive North Korean leader to the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul next year if Pyongyang makes a firm pledge toward denuclearization.

The newspaper is widely believed to represent the position of North Korea, whose government has yet to make an official response to Lee's proposal.

The North pledged to abandon its nuclear weapons programs in an aid-for-disarmament deal reached with the United States, South Korea and other regional powers, but it walked out of the talks in 2009.

The North later expressed its interest in returning to the nuclear talks, but its refusal to take responsibility for its two deadly attacks on South Korea has hindered diplomatic efforts to revive the talks that also include China, Russia and Japan.

Chosun Sinbo said the North is trying to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, repeating Pyongyang's official line that it is the "dying wish" of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung, the late father of current leader Kim Jong-il.

The newspaper also called on South Korea to review Kim's proposal for summit talks with Lee, noting "the situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a crucial juncture."

Kim extended the olive branch to Lee in a message former U.S. President Jimmy Carter brought to Seoul after his trip to Pyongyang in late April. Carter was not allowed to meet with either Kim or Lee during his recent trips to Pyongyang and Seoul.

Seoul has downplayed Kim's overture for dialogue and called on the North to speak directly to Seoul, not through a third party.

The newspaper also said Lee's proposal in Berlin is not a direct response to Kim's personal message for dialogue with South Korea.

It also suggested that the North would not offer an apology for its two attacks on the South last year that killed 50 South Koreans, despite Seoul's longstanding demand for an apology over the provocations.

The leaders of the two Koreas held summit talks in 2000 and 2007.

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