S. Korea rebuffs North's 'bogus' talks proposal

SEOUL • South Korea has dismissed a North Korean proposal for military talks as "a bogus peace offensive", and said it was formally rejecting the overture because the proposal lacked a plan to end the North's nuclear programme.

North Korea's proposal on the weekend for talks between the two Koreas, a repeat of a call by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a congress of his ruling party this month, came after a period of heightened tension on the peninsula.

North Korea said dialogue between military officials from the two sides was urgently needed to reduce tension, and suggested talks be held later this month or early next month.

South Korea said yesterday that the offer was insincere.

"The dialogue proposed by the North does not mention its nuclear programme, which is the fundamental issue for peace on the Korean peninsula and South-North ties," South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun told a briefing.

"Proposing dialogue without an expression of its position on denuclearisation is a bogus peace offensive for bogus peace that lacks sincerity."

Mr Moon said the South had sent a message over a military hotline yesterday expressing regret over the North's proposal and asking it to state its position on denuclearisation.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket in February, triggering tougher international sanctions and the adoption of a more hardline position by South Korean President Park Geun Hye.

This month, at the first congress of North Korea's Workers' Party in 36 years, Mr Kim declared his country a nuclear weapons state and vowed to press on with nuclear development, which he said was defensive.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles political ties with the North, said Pyongyang's intention may be to sow discord among the public in the South and create a rift in the international commitment to sanctions. "Let me repeat: Now is not the time for dialogue," said ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'S. Korea rebuffs North's 'bogus' talks proposal'. Print Edition | Subscribe