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(2nd LD) S. Korea voices regret over N. Korea's unilateral suspension of talks

2018/05/16 11:09

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SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea expressed regret over North Korea's unilateral decision to cancel inter-Korean talks planned for Wednesday, calling on Pyongyang to return to dialogue as soon as possible.

Earlier in the day, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said it has canceled the high-level talks with the South, citing the ongoing joint military drills between South Korea and the United States. It also threatened to cancel summit talks with the U.S. scheduled for June 12.

"It is regrettable that the North's unilateral move to postpone the high-level inter-Korean talks, citing the annual South Korea-U.S. air drills does not conform with the spirit and purpose of the agreements reached between the leaders of the two countries," the unification ministry issued a statement in the name of its spokesman Baik Tae-hyun.

"The government remains strongly committed to faithfully implementing the Panmunjom Declaration and urges the North to come out for talks as soon as possible for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula," it added, referring to the agreements reached during the April 27 summit between the two countries.

Following the historic summit held at the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un affirmed the goal of "complete" denuclearization, agreed to halt all hostile acts and expand cross-border cooperation.

They also agreed to hold a reunion of families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War on the occasion of the Aug. 15 Liberation Day. On Tuesday, the two Koreas announced the list of officials to join the Wednesday talks, including those handling transportation, railways, forests and cultural affairs.

The unification ministry that handles inter-Korean affairs emphasized the need for continued dialogue even to address issues being raised by the North.

The ministry added that it will draw up "necessary measures" through close consultations with relevant government agencies to advance relations between the two Koreas and establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula by enforcing the summit agreements.

Ministry spokesman Baik told a regular press briefing that the Seoul government will convey its position by the end of the day.

kokobj@yna.co.kr

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