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Accusations traded after ROK, DPRK call off talks

By Zhou Wa | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-14 08:16

Seoul and Pyongyang blamed each other on Thursday for the cancellation of high-level talks, slowing hard-won momentum for communication on the Korean Peninsula.

Observers said willingness alone is insufficient to restart talks between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. They urged both sides to first work out the scope, purpose and expected results of any future talks.

The DPRK blamed the ROK for deliberately sabotaging the planned talks with "arrogant obstructions".

"The South side had no intention of holding a dialogue from the beginning. ... It only sought to create an obstacle to the talks, delay and then torpedo them, said a spokesman for the DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.

"This impolite and immoral provocative behavior made us think once again whether it will be possible to properly discuss matters or improve relations even if official talks are opened in the future," the spokesman said.

The ROK responded to the DPRK's comments several hours later.

"It is highly regrettable that the DPRK unilaterally disclosed the contents of the working-level talks (held in Seoul on Sunday and Monday), and distorted the facts," a spokesman for the ROK's Ministry of Unification was quoted as saying by Seoul-based Yonhap news agency."The attitude of the North caused the talks to fall through."

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday at a regular news conference that Beijing hopes the relevant parties can value and seize the opportunity of hard-won momentum and make efforts to improve ties between the DPRK and ROK and ease the situation on the peninsula.

Wang Fan, an expert on Korean Peninsula issues at China Foreign Affairs University, said there is no solid foundation for the two countries to restart talks right now. They should work out the scope expected for the talks and the results they hope to see - before the talks are held.

Pyongyang and Seoul are assessing each other's sincerity, because the level of mutual trust between the two sides is very low, he said.

Gong Yuzhen, a professor of international affairs at Peking University, said protocol is not a big problem.

"It's more important for the two sides to settle the purpose of the talks and to what extent they expect the talks to solve the problems between them," he said.

The ROK and DPRK had initially agreed to hold their first high-level talks for six years in Seoul on Wednesday and Thursday, but the meetings were called off on Tuesday evening because of differences over protocol.

But observers still have hopes that the talks can be resumed at some point.

Wang said Pyongyang is looking to Seoul in times of economic difficulties, while the ROK needs to implement President Park Geun-hye's policy of improving relations between the two sides so they will talk in the future.

AFP contributed to this story.

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