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No inter-Korean talks without N. Korea's apology: minister

South Korea has no intention of sacrificing its "principle" for an apology from
North Korea for last year's deadly attacks for the sake of the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue, Seoul's point man on cross-border affairs said Saturday.

   Tensions persist on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea continues to ignore the South's demand for an apology for two deadly military attacks -- the March 2010 sinking of the Cheonan warship and the November shelling of Yeonpyeong Island -- that killed 50 people.

   "The government will stick with its principle that demands North Korea show responsible measures for the attacks on the Cheonan warship and Yeonpyeong Island ahead of inter-Korean dialogue," Unification Minister Hyun In-taek told a forum in Seoul.

   "Any dialogue overlooking North Korean provocations won't lead to peace on the Korean Peninsula. We reject such dialogue."

   Still, few analysts believe that North Korea will accept the South's demand. Pyongyang denies it sank the Cheonan warship, and claimed its bombardment of Yeonpyeong was provoked by the South Korean military's artillery drill.

   North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made his third trip to China this week, with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao explaining that Beijing invited Kim to study China's market-oriented reforms.

   Referring to Kim's latest visit to China, Hyun said, "China achieved its prosperity through bold reforms and an opening up. I sincerely hope North Korea follows China's precedent.

   "North Korea could see a bright future only if it adopts reforms and an opening up."

   Speaking to a separate conference on the southern resort island of Jeju, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik again urged North Korea to demonstrate its denuclearization commitment and show "sincerity" for inter-Korean talks.

   "There is a need to confirm North Korea's sincerity at an inter-Korean dialogue because the six-party talks should become a venue to make practical progress for denuclearization in the North," Kim told the annual Jeju Peace Forum.

   South Korea is pitching a three-step approach to the stalled six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear programs. It calls for North Korea to meet South Korea first and then the U.S. before reopening the multilateral forum.

   The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S., have been stalled since the last session in December 2008 due to North Korea's boycott and tensions over the communist nation's two deadly attacks last year.

(Yonhap News)

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