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(2nd LD) N.K. dismisses S. Korea's wish for better ties as 'nonsense' amid sanctions

All Headlines 21:40 July 20, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS details in last para)

SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Thursday that it is nonsense for South Korea to hope to improve inter-Korean ties while taking a confrontational policy against the North without giving up its dependence on the United States.

The North's comments came three days after Seoul proposed holding inter-Korean military talks on Friday to ease tensions along the tense border and Red Cross talks on Aug. 1 to resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's main newspaper, called on South Korea to make a decision over whether to stick to its sanctions-oriented approach toward Pyongyang and submission to the U.S.

"Ditching confrontation and hostility is a precondition for opening the door for the two Koreas' reconciliation and unity," the newspaper said.

South Korea's dialogue offer came after President Moon Jae-in proposed ways to bring permanent peace to the divided peninsula during his speech in Berlin earlier this month.

Moon earlier vowed to seek a dual-track approach of North Korea's denuclearization and engagement with Pyongyang.

On Monday, the government said that it wants North Korea to show a response via the now-suspended communication channels.

Seoul's unification ministry said that North Korea did not respond to a South Korean official's call at a liaison office at the truce village of Panmunjom.

North Korea cut off two inter-Korean communication channels since February 2016 when Seoul shut down a joint industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong in response to the North's nuclear and missile tests.

A ministry official said that he does not see the newspaper's comment as North Korea's official response to the South's dialogue offer.

He said that it may be difficult for the two Koreas to hold talks on Friday, given the short period for preparation and the disconnected communication lines, even if Pyongyang gives a positive reply later in the day.

"But it is important for South and North Korea to take initiative in resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula," the official said. "There is no deadline for Seoul's efforts (to improve ties) via dialogue."

Russia's foreign ministry, meanwhile, said Thursday it supports South Korea's proposal for holding inter-Korean military talks, adding Moscow's stance is negative on North Korea's ambition to develop nuclear missiles.

(2nd LD) N.K. dismisses S. Korea's wish for better ties as 'nonsense' amid sanctions - 1


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