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N. Korea: Bleak prospects for inter-Korean relations

2015/12/15 21:55

SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Tuesday that prospects of its relations with South Korea look bleaker as Pyongyang accused Seoul of being responsible for the collapse of their recent high-level talks.

The rival Koreas ended the rare talks on Saturday without producing any agreement due mainly to differences on what should be on the agenda.

South Korea has pushed to resolve the issue of families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War by holding reunions on a regular basis.

Family reunions are a pressing humanitarian issue, as most separated kin are in their 70s and 80s, and wish to see their long-lost relatives before they die.

North Korea has proposed that the two Koreas handle the issue of separated families along with the issue of resuming the long-stalled tour to the North Korean scenic mountain resort for South Koreans.

Still, South Korea declined to connect the two issues while North Korea rejected Seoul's offer for separate working-level talks to discuss the tour program.

The talks brought about results that are worse than not holding talks and "the prospects of North-South relations became even bleaker," a spokesman of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The talks were a key part of the August deal that defused military tensions sparked by a land-mine attack blamed on North Korea. The incident maimed two South Korean soldiers near the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas.

Under the deal, the two Koreas held reunions of separated families in late October. They still remain technically at war as the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The unidentified spokesman of the North's body handling inter-Korean affairs also said South Korea will be held responsible for the collapse of the talks.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, expressed regret over what it says is North Korea's distortion of facts and urged Pyongyang to respond to Seoul's efforts to move forward inter-Korean ties.