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N. Korea slams Seoul for refusing civilian dialogue offer

All Headlines 11:44 June 02, 2013

SEOUL, June 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea condemned South Korea's unification minister Sunday for his recent criticism of Pyongyang's offer for civilian-level dialogue and repeated calls for South Korean factory owners to visit the now-suspended inter-Korean industrial complex in the North.

Last week, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said South Korea will not give in to the North's pressure to hold private-level talks over the standoff of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, calling Pyongyang's offer for dialogue "hypocrisy."

His comment came a day after North Korea invited South Korean officials for talks with it on the future of the joint complex but only when they come with businessmen with plants in the factory zone.

Maintaining that government-level talks must precede any negotiations that may involve civilians, Seoul officials see the North's proposal as an attempt to sideline the government and as a typical ploy by Pyongyang to drive a wedge between it and its people.

"We have shown every good faith to resume the operation of the Kaesong complex and return it to normal," the North said in a statement posted on its main propaganda website, Uriminzokkiri.

Insulting the proposal for dialogue is "a shameless sophistry and perversity," it said.

"The South Korean government should not mislead the essence of the problem and distort the truth, and take the right path by squarely facing the public sentiment and going with the flow," the commentary said, reiterating its will to resume talks upon the South Korean businessmen's visit there.

The joint industrial complex, opened in 2004, ground to a halt in early April when North Korea unilaterally withdrew all of its 53,000 workers hired by 123 small-sized South Korean plants operating there.

South Korea has since proposed working government talks to discuss ways to reopen the complex, but North Korea has turned them down, demanding that Seoul first address more fundamental issues, including joint military exercises with the U.S.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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