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(4th LD) N. Korea says it has no intention to talk with S. Korea

All Headlines 11:37 August 16, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with unification ministry's comments in 3rd and last 2 paras, minor edits)
By Koh Byung-joon and Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Friday that Pyongyang has no intention to talk with South Korea again, calling it a "senseless" hope to expect talks to be resumed when Seoul's joint military exercise with the United States is over.

The remarks were made by a spokesperson of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, as North Korea fired two more unidentified projectiles into the East Sea, the sixth such launch in about three weeks, the same day.

Seoul reaffirmed its commitment to inter-Korean summit agreements aimed at fostering cross-border dialogue and cooperation and urged Pyongyang to come out for talks to advance relations between the two Koreas.

"The South Korean authorities are snooping about to fish in troubled waters in the future DPRK-U.S. dialogue, dreaming that the phase of dialogue would naturally arrive after the joint military exercises just as the natural change of the time of the year," the statement said, according to the Korean Central News Agency, adding they "better drop that senseless lingering attachment."

DPRK is the abbreviation for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"They can clearly see what we feel now, i.e. we have nothing to talk any more with the South Korean authorities nor have any idea to sit with them again," it added.

North Korea has lambasted South Korea for holding a joint military exercise with the U.S., which started earlier this month, claiming it is a rehearsal for their invasion of the North.

The North has recently said that inter-Korean dialogue won't resume unless the South offers a "plausible excuse" for its combined military exercise with the U.S.

In recent weeks, Pyongyang conducted a series of missile tests in an apparent show of force against the ongoing Seoul-Washington joint military exercise. Friday's launches came six days after the North fired projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

The latest launches were conducted from its eastern coastal county of Tongchon, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. No other details were immediately known, including their type, flight range and maximum altitude.

Analysts say the series of sharp-worded statements by the North are aimed at pushing Seoul to play a bigger role in facilitating its nuclear talks with the U.S. or advancing their cross-border projects.

"They are basically asking for pretext for the North to come out and have inter-Korean talks and save its face," professor Yang Moo-jin at the University of North Korean Studies said. "It also seems like an indirect message seeking more efforts to change Washington's stance, such as easing sanctions on the North."

Inter-Korean relations have remained stalled as Pyongyang has not responded to Seoul's offers for cooperation and talks amid little progress in its denuclearization negotiations with the U.S.

On Thursday, President Moon Jae-in said in his speech to mark the liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule that the country will work to bring North Korea back to talks on its denuclearization, reaffirming his strong commitment to inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation despite skepticism over his peace drive amid Pyongyang's saber-rattling and hardening rhetoric.

Calling Moon an "impudent guy rare to be found," the North's statement on Friday dismissed his Thursday speech as rhetorical and thoughtless remarks.

"What cannot but be pointed out is that he said the dialogue atmosphere was not marred despite some recent 'worrisome acts' of North Korea and that things have changed from that in the past when the Korean Peninsula vibrated owing to a single 'provocation' by North Korea -- the reckless remarks that had nothing to do with the 'liberation day,'" the statement said.

"In the speech, he failed to put forward any proper measures against the insult by the Japanese islanders and any ways to overcome the worsening economic situation but only played with words," it added.

In response to the North's statement, Seoul's unification ministry handling inter-Korean affairs said such criticism against Moon is "not helpful at all" in advancing relations between the two Koreas and urged Pyongyang to come back to the negotiations table.

"Our stance remains unchanged that inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation are the only way to implement inter-Korean agreements and that each other's positions can be coordinated in any degree through talks," deputy ministry spokesman Kim Eun-han said at a regular press briefing.

"We urge the North to actively respond to (our efforts)," Kim said.

President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech to mark the 74th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan's colonial rule during a ceremony at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan, 90 kilometers south of Seoul, on Aug. 15, 2019. (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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