World Bulletin/News Desk
South Korea’s unification ministry declared a “virtual” end to hopes of follow-up talks with North Korea on Sunday, weeks after the North sparked optimism by unexpectedly sending a high-level delegation south of the border.
The admission came a day after Pyongyang’s latest signal that there would be no further inter-Korean meetings until Seoul put a stop to activists floating anti-North leaflets across the border – more than a million were sent via air balloons Friday.
“It is very regretful that North Korea has expressed its intention to scupper inter-Korean dialogue by falsely claiming the leaflet campaign is backed by our government,” Seoul unification ministry spokesperson Lim Byeong-cheol told reporters.
He added: “under the current situation, the possibility of inter-Korean high-level talks has virtually fallen through.”
It is a far cry from the buoyant mood that accompanied the visit of North Korea’s effective second-in-command Hwang Pyong-so to the South Korean city of Incheon early last month – his presence there seemed to suggest genuine backing for cooperation from leader Kim Jong-un.
Since then tensions have steadily risen, with the two sides exchanging fire along their heavily-guarded land and sea border – a reminder that these nations remain technically at war despite a 1953 ceasefire.
Pyongyang also cautioned South Korea on Sunday not to participate in what it called a United States-led “scheme” against the North’s human rights record.
Seoul has already backed this year’s United Nations Commission of Inquiry report calling for North Korea to be referred to the International Criminal Court for its treatment of those considered political opponents.
But the North’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned Seoul to “think carefully about the severe consequences that will result.”
Meanwhile, the North’s military threat appears to have escalated – Pyongyang now possessing a submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles, according to a government source in the South cited by local news agency Yonhap.
Based on satellite imagery, the North is believed to have set up a test facility for missiles that could be launched from a reverse-engineered 67-meter Soviet-era vessel.
Last Mod: 02 Kasım 2014, 14:11