SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) still believes its military confrontation with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), if left unaddressed, would adversely affect prospects for stalled opening nuclear disarmament talks, the foreign ministry here said Wednesday.
"As we have repeatedly said, it is our position that in order for the six-party talks to resume, North Korea (DPRK) should demonstrate a meaningful change in its behavior indicating its commitment to denuclearization," the foreign ministry said in a response to a local report on Seoul's potential flip-flopping on the issue.
How Pyongyang responds to the sinking of a warship of ROK and the shelling of a western border island last year, which altogether killed 50 South Koreans, would also affect the resumption of the aid-for-denuclearization talks involving six powers, the ministry added.
Fire exchange that took place in waters off the west coast of the devided Korean Penisula between the two countries in last November have sent their relations to new lows.
"Unless the North shows responsible attitude towards (the incidents), the process for reopening the six-party talks would be adversely affected," the ministry said, calling for Pyongyang's response to Seoul's calls for inter-Korean denuclearization talks.
The DPRK in 2009 unilaterally quit the six-party talks, hosted by China, in protest against fresh UN sanctions put in place after its missile and nuclear tests, but has since expressed its wish to return to the negotiating table.
DPRK leader Kim Jong-il recently delivered a written message to former US President Jimmy Carter, who visited Pyongyang on a private mission, that he is willing to negotiate any issues with ROK, the United States and other members of the nuclear disarmament talks and meet with South Korean President Lee Myung- bak for summit talks.
Officials in Pyongyang, however, said they will not admit to culpability for the incidents, Carter said.
The two Koreas, meanwhile, are slowly starting to open civilian channels of dialogue, with geologists and volcano experts from both sides of the border meeting for a series of talks aimed at conducting joint research into volcanic activities at the highest mountain on the peninsula.