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N. Korea sets preconditions for talks with S. Korea

2014/09/15 11:31

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea demanded Monday that South Korea lift a set of economic sanctions and stop other "hostile" acts against Pyongyang as a precondition for high-level talks that Seoul has proposed.

In August, Seoul made an offer for a second round of high-level talks on the reunion of separated families and other pending inter-Korean issues.

In a commentary titled "Dialogue and confrontation can't be compatible each other," the North's Rodong Sinmun state newspaper stressed that "the South's May 24th Measure and suspension of a tour program to Mount Kumgang are hampering efforts for inter-Korean reconciliation."

   The May 24th Measure refers to tough economic sanctions imposed on the North for its 2010 deadly attack on a South Korean warship.

It has effectively put all inter-Korean economic projects on hold except for the joint venture in Kaesong.

The newspaper, an organ of the powerful Workers' Party, also called on the South to halt regular joint military drills with the United States and remove "anti-reunification legal and systematic devices."

   "It's the very first step to open the door for dialogue," it said.

The North's demands came just a couple of days after North Korean officials stated that if the South wants dialogue, it should take measures to stop activists sending anti-communist leaflets via balloon across the border.

An unnamed representative of the North's delegation for inter-Korean dialogue described the "balloon operation" as part of the South's push for "psychological warfare."

   Officials here dismissed a claim that their government is backing civilian groups' voluntary action.

"It is not true at all that our government has supported the scattering of leaflets by civilian organizations," the unification ministry's spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at a press briefing.