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S. Korea sees need to hold inter-Korean talks despite tension

2015/08/17 17:35

SEOUL, Aug. 17 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said Monday that inter-Korean dialogue should still be pursued even as military tension has heightened due to the recent landmine blasts blamed on the North.

"There should be no North Korean provocations like the recent mine blasts," Hong said at a meeting with the religious leader of Won Buddhism. "But efforts to hold inter-Korean talks should be continued."

   North Korea has condemned Seoul for called on Pyongyang to apologize for the recent landmine attack near the inter-Korean border. It has also rebuked South Korea and the United States for launching their 12-day joint military drills on Monday.

The North on Friday denied its involvement in the mine attack on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone, demanding Seoul provide solid proof.

President Park Geun-hye on Saturday sternly warned of retaliation against North Korea for its possible provocations, but she also called for cooperation to promote peace on the divided peninsula.

Hong also reiterated that the government plans to encourage more civilian groups to increase exchanges with the North in non-political areas to promote unity this year.

"The North has shut its door for possible inter-Korean talks while the two Koreas plan to hold a youth football tournament in late August in Pyongyang," the minister said. "Inter-Korean exchanges in the areas of cultural activities, sports and religious works are under way. The government will actively support them if further progress is made."

   sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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