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S. Korea learns N. Korea's intentions from high-level talks: official

2014/02/13 09:23

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea used its rare high-level talks with North Korea to learn exactly what the communist nation wants and to explain Seoul's position on cross-border relations, an official said Thursday.

The first high-level meeting between the two Koreas in seven years ended without any tangible agreement earlier in the day, with the North demanding Seoul postpone the upcoming military exercises with the United States until after the two Koreas hold reunions for families separated since the Korean War later this month.

"We've become clearly aware of North Korea's intentions, and this was also an opportunity for us to clearly explain our principles," an unidentified government official was quoted as saying by presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook.

The South offered detailed explanations on its policy on Pyongyang, including the "Korean Peninsula trust process" vision that calls for promoting dialogue and exchanges between the two sides so as to build trust and reduce tensions, the official was also quoted as saying.

What Seoul learned about the North during the talks was that Pyongyang thinks very seriously about what it calls slanderous acts and media reports in the South about its leader Kim Jong-un and of the South's upcoming military maneuvers with the United States, the official said.

North Korea has long denounced such annual exercises in the South as a rehearsal for an invasion of the communist nation, despite repeated assurances that they are purely defensive in nature. This year's drills are set to run from Feb. 24 through April.

Wednesday's meeting was also meaningful because officials from powerful offices of the two sides, which are connected directly to their leaders, met and talked, the official said. During the talks, the South was represented by a senior presidential official and the North by a deputy chief of the powerful United Front Department of the ruling Workers' Party.

The official, however, denied some news reports that the two sides also discussed lifting Seoul's sanctions on the North or resuming suspended tours to the North's scenic Mount Kumgang, saying those issues were not taken up during the meeting.