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(LEAD) S. Korea to keep pressure against N.K. while seeking dialogue: official

All News 16:25 June 20, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more info in para 7)

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- The new vice unification minister on Tuesday reiterated South Korea's dual-track policy of pressure and dialogue toward North Korea.

Chun Hae-sung made the remark at a time when North Korea has yet to respond to Seoul's offer that it would come to dialogue if Pyongyang suspends provocative acts.

"We will sternly respond to North Korea's provocations and fully implement international sanctions," Chun told reporters. "But we are also taking steps (toward engagement) cautiously as it is not desirable for inter-Korean ties to remain frayed."

Last week, President Moon Jae-in indicated Seoul is willing to lower the bar for the resumption of dialogue and relations, saying that South Korea is willing to hold unconditional talks if Pyongyang stops its nuclear and missile tests.

"North Korea has yet to show a reaction. But we will stick to such a policy stance," he added.

Seoul took steps to resume civilian inter-Korean exchanges to an extent that would not compromise the international sanctions regime. But Pyongyang has turned down South Korean civic groups' offer to revive exchanges in protest of the South's support of the latest U.N. sanctions.

The government has approved 35 requests by civic groups for contact with North Korea since Moon took office on May 10, it said.

(LEAD) S. Korea to keep pressure against N.K. while seeking dialogue: official - 1

Despite frayed inter-Korean ties, a North Korean taekwondo team will visit South Korea this week for an international competition.

The North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) will bring its demonstration team to South Korea for the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, some 240 kilometers south of Seoul, to be held from June 24-30.

Chun will visit the venue for the event this weekend to attend its opening ceremony, but has not specified plans to meet with North Korean officials, according to a ministry official.

A 36-member delegation of athletes and ITF officials will visit South Korea. It includes Chang Ung, former ITF chief and the only North Korean member of the IOC.

"Currently, there is no plan (for a meeting) with North Korea (on the sidelines of the event)," said a ranking ministry official.


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