North Korea demanded $13.5b cash and food for summit, says former South Korean president

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea demanded US$10 billion (S$13.5 billion) in cash and half a million tonnes of food in 2009 as a precondition of holding a summit with the South, former South Korean president Lee Myung Bak said, adding that he refused to pay anything for holding talks.

A predecessor, Mr Kim Dae Jung, held the first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2000 and was credited with bringing in a period of warming ties, an achievement that was tarnished later by a revelation that he helped channel US$500 million to the North.

Mr Lee, president from 2008 to 2013, said in a book to be published next week that he rejected the North's terms. "The document looked like some sort of standardised 'summit bill' with its list of assistance we had to provide and the schedule written up," he said. Reuters obtained an advance copy of the chapters on North Korea on Thursday.

The document referred to a list sent from the North "as a condition for a summit" that included 400,000 tonnes of rice, 100,000 tonnes of corn, 300,000 tonnes of fertiliser and US$10 billion in capital the North would use to set up a bank. "We shouldn't be haggling for a summit," Mr Lee wrote.

Mr Kim Dae Jung's successor Roh Moo Hyun met Mr Kim Jong Il for a second summit in 2007.

Mr Kim Jong Il continued to push for a summit with the South before he died in late 2011, but it did not materialise because he refused to acknowledge a 2010 torpedo attack on a South Korean naval vessel, Mr Lee said in the book.

Mr Lee, a conservative who pushed Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, left office without meeting the North's leader.

The Cheonan was torpedoed in 2010, killing 46 sailors. South Korea blamed the North, which denied any involvement.

North Korea on Friday demanded the lifting of sanctions imposed by Mr Lee's government after the 2010 sinking as a condition for resuming dialogue.

Both Kim Jong Il's successor Kim Jong Un and current South Korean President Park Geun Hye said this month they were open to the idea of talks.

The two Koreas remain technically at war because their 1950-1953 war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.