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Two Koreas should be on par to start talks: S. Korean PM

2013/06/12 15:07

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won called Wednesday for "sincere talks" with North Korea based upon mutual understanding, a day after disputes over the ranks of lead delegates resulted in the cancellation of rare inter-Korean high-level talks.

The two sides had been scheduled to open two-day meetings in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss resuming joint economic projects and other issues, but the talks were called off at the last minute after they failed to reach agreement over the ranks of officials to represent each side.

"Dialogue can be accepted by each other when two sides are on the same level. Talks made by a unilateral push would not have sincerity," Chung said during a parliamentary interpellation session, while expressing regret over the cancellation.

"We've been made unlimited, unilateral concessions to the North so far, but now is time to meet the level," he said, adding it is also a matter of "the pride of the South Korean people."

   Vowing efforts for the improvement of the inter-Korean relations with patience, however, Chung said Seoul always "leaves the door open for dialogue," and expressed optimism about the North's positive response.

Speaking of the recent corruption cases surrounding the country's nuclear reactors, Chung reiterated the government's strong willingness to punish those responsible for irregularities.

Corruption involving the nuclear industry came to light after two power-generating atomic reactors were turned off late last month after they were found to be using substandard control cables supplied under fake quality warranties.

The suspension sparked worries of a power shortage ahead of high demand in summer.

"Those who turn out to be involved in the cases will face punishment regardless of whether they had the intention to commit the wrongdoings or not," Chung said, adding that the government will "lead the reform of the industry to eliminate its exclusive nature that caused such problems."

   Collusive ties of the so-called nuclear mafia, a combination of industry, research and bureaucracy with the same educational background united for the expansion of the industry, have been highlighted as the primary cause of the corruption scandal.