World Bulletin/News Desk
South Korean President Park Gyen-hye Tuesday called on the North to respond to an offer of high-level talks, local media reported.
Nearly a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un indicated his openness to the idea of a ministerial summit, Yonghap news agency reported Park as saying: "North Korea should quickly come forward for inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation and substantially handle with us specific projects for the establishment of peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula."
Despite Kim's conciliatory New Year's address, in which he suggested he would be willing to hold talks with the South, Pyongyang still has not officially responded to Seoul's offer of minister-level talks.
South Korea had proposed discussing issues such as the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
Such a meeting would be the first high-level talks since 2007 but the prospect of a positive response from Pyongyang faces a series of stumbling blocks.
Late Monday, activists led by a North Korean defector launched around 600,000 anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border on balloons, South Korean police said.
The North has regularly condemned such activities, holding the South Korean government responsible for allowing leaflets to be launched despite Seoul's insistence that it has no legal right to block the activists. In his New Year’s message, Kim threatened to "sternly react" to any such provocation.
The North has already demonstrated how seriously it takes the leaflet issue, having scrapped planned inter-Korean talks towards the end of last year and opened fire across the border in retaliation.
Another demand from Kim that is unlikely to be met is the call for South Korea to abandon its regular joint defense exercises with the U.S., which has around 28,500 military personnel based in the South.
On Tuesday, the defense ministry in Seoul released a paper that included the claim that the North's "capabilities of miniaturizing nuclear weapons appear to have reached a significant level."
Such a development would sharpen another major concern relayed by the ministry – that Pyongyang is "presumed to have capabilities that could threaten the U.S. mainland."
The paper continued to define the North as an "enemy," a description that had been abandoned in 2004 before being brought back into use in 2012 amid worsening inter-Korean ties. The two nations are still technically at war, having not signed a peace treaty after the Korean War.
Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2015, 11:07