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Inter-Korean exchanges frozen after nuke test

All News 14:12 January 21, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government said Thursday it would not allow any direct civilian exchanges with North Korea for the time being, a punitive step against Pyongyang for its fourth nuclear test.

It's time to concentrate efforts on imposing effective sanctions on the North, said an official at the Unification Ministry that handles Seoul-Pyongyang relations.

The reaffirmation of Seoul's firm stance came after reports that the North proposed contact in China with the South's civilian organizations not before long after its Jan. 6 nuclear test, allegedly hydrogen-based.

"North Korea offered consultations on projects under way (by some South Korean aid groups)," the ministry official told reporters.

He made clear the government's disapproval of any direct inter-Korean civilian meeting at a time when the international community is discussing tougher sanctions on Pyongyang.

The inter-Korean relationship should "not be business as usual," he said, adding the North's suggestion is like "asking for shaking hands and being on good terms after a slap in the face."

In the wake of the North's nuclear test, its national commission on reconciliation reportedly sent a fax message to several South Korean humanitarian and religious groups proposing meetings in China on their projects this year.

Under South Korea's National Security Law, its nationals must receive government approval before contact with North Koreans.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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