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(LEAD) S. Korea urges N. Korea to accept dialogue offer

All Headlines 11:24 September 05, 2014

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details)

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea called on North Korea on Friday to accept its offer of high-level talks, saying it hopes to resolve all pending issues through dialogue.

In a statement, Seoul's unification ministry expressed regret over Pyongyang's silence on its August proposal.

"Our government leaves the door open for dialogue," ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said. "There is no change in our position that all pending issues between South and North Korea should be resolved through dialogue."

He said the North should respond to the South's offer before it's too late.

The Park Geun-hye administration proposed that another round of high-level talks take place on Aug. 19 at the truce village of Panmunjom to arrange the reunion of families separated mostly by the 1950-53 Korean War and discuss other issues of "mutual concern."

It added Pyongyang can choose another date if it wants. But the communist neighbor has kept mum on the proposal.

"We hope that North Korea will respond positively to the offer at an early date and resolve pending South-North issues in a sincere manner, thus giving good news to separated families on the occasion of Chuseok and joining the path toward improved inter-Korean relations," said Lim.

Seoul's call came a day before the start of the Chuseok holiday. This year's Chuseok, equivalent to the Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., falls on Sept. 8.

He said Pyongyang's response, if any, is expected after the Chuseok holiday that will last through Wednesday.

"There is no communication through the (Panmunjom) liaison office on South Korean holidays," Lim said. "By practice, to my understanding, North Korea does not send any message through the channel during the South's holidays."

Meanwhile, the first batch of North Korean athletes to join the 2014 Incheon Asian Games is scheduled to fly over the Yellow Sea and to the city on Thursday, the official confirmed.

"No exact time for their arrival has been set yet," he said.



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