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Inter-Korean talks scuttled over S. Korean impeachment
Updated: 2004-03-15 16:13

Inter-Korean economic talks scheduled for Monday have been scuttled by North Korean concerns about political instability in the South after last week's presidential impeachment.

Both sides had agreed to hold the talks in the Southern city of Paju. But communist North Korea on Sunday urged they be moved to the Northern city of Kaesong because of the ``very unstable'' political situation in the South.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said Monday the talks were called off and indefinitely postponed.

``We expressed regret because our situation is very stable and we don't want to change location,'' ministry spokeswoman Yang Jung-hwa said.

South Korea's two main opposition parties voted Friday to impeach President Roh Moo-hyun on charges of illegal campaigning and incompetence, the first such move in South Korean history.

While there have been nightly protests in downtown Seoul, there has been no major unrest.

North Korea accused the United States on Sunday of stirring up South Korea's presidential impeachment, calling it a ``coup'' that ``betrays the backwardness of South Korean politics.''

``This is not merely an internal affair of South Korea. It is a political rebellion staged by a handful of political quacks quelling the mind-set of tens of millions of South Korean people,'' the North's official KCNA news agency said, citing a spokesman from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

The regular economic talks are an outgrowth of a groundbreaking 2000 summit between North Korea leader Kim Jong Il and Roh's predessor, President Kim Dae-jung.

North Korea expressed concern in an official radio broadcast Sunday, saying: ``We cannot but reconsider the venue of the third working-level economic talks, planned to be held in Paju, with your government and local and foreign media all saying that the situation is very unstable due to unprecedented confusion created by the opposition parties.''

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