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(LEAD) N. Korea offers to host inter-Korean reunification meeting

All News 12:05 June 10, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with Seoul's reaction in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea offered to host an inter-Korean meeting to discuss ways to bring about reunification, the latest in the communist country's dialogue proposals to Seoul since a high-profile ruling party congress in early May.

"We propose opening a nationwide grand meeting for reunification on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of Korea's liberation, prompted by the ardent desire ... (in) improving the inter-Korean relations and accomplishing the cause of national reunification by the concerted efforts of all Koreans," the North said in an appeal addressed to "all Koreans," which was carried by its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The appeal was adopted during a joint conference of government and party officials in Pyongyang a day earlier, according to the media outlet.

"Now is the crucial time for all Koreans to turn out as one and dynamically advance to pull down the barrier of hostility and confrontation and bring earlier the bright day of reunification," the appeal read.

"We ardently call upon all Koreans in the North, the South and abroad once again to turn out as one in the sacred struggle to fling the gate of the reunified power open," it also said.

The call is the latest dialogue offer by the North after its leader Kim Jong-un called for military talks with South Korea during the Workers' Party of Korea congress.

Since then, the North has repeatedly proposed talks, although Seoul dismissed them because it said such proposals lacked sincerity.

Besides urging talks, the North, in addition, called on compatriots to engage in an "anti-U.S. sacred war," demanded the halt of all Seoul-Washington military drills and outlined the benefits of North Korea's "nuclear sword" for self-defense.

In regards to the latest proposal, South Korea's Ministry of Unification immediately turned down the offer, again saying that it is just a propaganda ploy.

"It's only an obsolete propaganda offensive and repeat of its previous demands to suspend joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises, which came without any attitude change in the nuclear weapon issue, the most critical obstacle to the peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula," ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said.

Pyongyang should first declare denuclearization and follow it with action if the country wants to improve ties and reunify with South Korea, Jeong noted.

The spokesman said North Korea's recent dialogue offer is just part of an effort to follow through with decisions made during the May party congress.


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