SEOUL, Nov. 18 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry on Monday called on North Korea to accept its dialogue offer over a long-suspended inter-Korean mountain tourism project, after Pyongyang threatened to unilaterally remove the South-built facilities at the resort on the North's east coast.
On Friday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Pyongyang sent an ultimatum to South Korea earlier in the week warning that it would take steps to pull down the facilities if Seoul doesn't come and tear them down.
The ultimatum came less than three weeks after the North demanded that the South remove all facilities it had built at the mountain resort, saying it will build a new tourist resort of its own.
"Our stance remains unchanged that South and North Korea should meet on the basis that the issue should be resolved through a mutual agreement and close consultations with business operators," ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min told a regular press briefing.
Following the North's demand, Seoul has asked to hold working-level talks, but Pyongyang turned down the offer, insisting on discussing the issue in writing.
Lee said the government is in talks with business operators to come up with a counter measure and will take necessary steps when ready.
Monday marks the 21st anniversary of the launch of the Mount Kumgang project, but Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-un is not expected to visit the North on the occasion, according to Lee.
Hyundai Asan, an affiliate of Hyundai Group, had been an operator of the tour program to the mountain for about a decade until it came to a halt in 2008, when a South Korean tourist was fatally shot by a North Korean solider.
Meanwhile, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul is in the United States on his first trip to the country since taking office, with the fate of the long-suspended inter-Korean tour project expected to be one of key topics of discussions.
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