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Parties show mixed responses to Seoul's offer for inter-Korean talks

2017/07/17 17:40

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SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's political parties on Monday showed mixed reactions to Seoul's proposal for cross-border talks, seen as an initial step for President Moon Jae-in's initiative to mend fences with a provocative Pyongyang.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) opposed the "unilateral" overture, pointing to Pyongyang's continued provocations, while the liberal parties hailed the proposal as an opportunity to ease inter-Korean tensions.

Earlier in the day, Seoul proposed holding bilateral military talks Friday over reducing tensions across the border, and Red Cross talks on Aug. 1 to discuss ways to resume reunions of the families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The offer came after South Korean President Moon Jae-in unveiled his comprehensive initiative for inter-Korean rapprochement in Berlin on July 6.

"We agree to the principle of a peaceful resolution of the North's nuclear issue, but it is hard to understand why our government made such a unilateral proposal at a time when the international community strengthens sanctions against Pyongyang and the North continues its provocations," Khang Hyo-sang, the LKP spokesman, told reporters.

This photo, taken on June 20, 2017, shows Rep. Khang Hyo-sang of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party speaking during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo, taken on June 20, 2017, shows Rep. Khang Hyo-sang of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party speaking during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"The government made the proposal when it puts on hold the deployment of the THAAD (missile defense system) where citizens' lives are at stake... This is a case of putting the cart before the horse," he added.

The ruling Democratic Party welcomed the proposal, saying that it is a "timely" step.

"This is a very timely step for South Korea to play a leading role in addressing issues involving the Korean Peninsula," Kang Hoon-sik, the party spokesman, told reporters, stressing the need to break the long-standing impasse in inter-Korean relations.

This photo, taken on July 5, 2017, shows Kang Hoon-sik, the spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party, speaking during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap) This photo, taken on July 5, 2017, shows Kang Hoon-sik, the spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party, speaking during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"There should not be ideological or partisan considerations in the efforts to reduce cross-border tensions and promoting bilateral dialogue," he added.

The center-left People's Party also hailed the proposal, while underscoring the need for the two Koreas to look at the issue of separated families from a humanitarian standpoint.

"We hope that the proposal could serve as an opportunity for reducing military tensions and forging a stream of dialogue and peace," Son Kum-ju, the party spokesman, said in a written commentary.

Son, however, cautioned against "too hastily" pursuing military dialogue when the North continues its armed provocations.

The conservative Bareun Party demanded that Seoul prioritize addressing the North's nuclear and missile threats at the proposed talks, and that the family reunions take place without any conditions.

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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