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Seoul proposed 3 inter-Korean summits: N.K.

Ministry says North distorting South’s ‘real intentions’


North Korea said Wednesday South Korea proposed to hold three meetings between their leaders and pleaded for any gesture to appease South Koreans still angry over last year’s attacks via an unofficial communication channel.

Pyongyang’s powerful National Defense Commission said senior officials from Seoul including President Lee Myung-bak’s secretary for external strategy Kim Tae-hyo had made a secretive contact with North Korean officials, asking to hold a ministerial-level meeting in late May.

“The officials (from Seoul) said they have the schedule regarding the inter-Korean summit prepared already,” the unidentified official said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

But the North said there would be no such summits as long as Seoul sticks to a condition that Pyongyang apologizes for two deadly border incidents last year.

The Seoul government accused Pyongyang of “distorting our real intention,” and urged it to come out for dialogue with a responsibile attitude.

South Korea said it does “not feel the need to react” to the North Korean claim that deliberately distorted its real intention, but it did not directly deny Pyongyang’s claim that an offer for summits was made.

“We express deep regrets as such an attitude by North Korea will not help improve inter-Korean ties,” the South Korean government said in a statement released by the Unification Ministry.

It is South Korea’s “unchanging position” that the North must take a responsible attitude toward the attacks last year for any kind of dialogue, the statement also said.

The statement came nearly four hours after the KCNA report, indicating the shock Pyongyang caused Seoul with its sudden exposure.

Neither the ministry nor the presidential office was willing to make further comments.

The conservative Lee government in Seoul has been denying speculations over its plans to hold a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, maintaining a tough posture on the surface.

Having suffered two deadly attacks last year that killed 50 people, South Korea has been snubbing Pyongyang’s appeals for food and said it will not resume dialogue on a full-scale basis until apology is made.

“Breaking their earlier promise, they (South Korea) began to play tactics to receive our apology” for the two attacks, the Pyongyang official was quoted as saying to the KCNA.

“They even begged us to come up with an alternative to fool the world that we have made an apology,” the official added.

If North Korea’s claim is true, the Lee government is likely to face criticism from both the right wingers and the pro-North Korean left wingers here for deceiving the people.

On Monday, the defense commission of Pyongyang had said it will suspend the eastern border communication channel and warned of “physical actions” over Seoul’s propaganda campaign near their heavily fortified border.

The moves of Seoul’s Lee Myung-bak government against the North “have reached an extreme phase,” it said in a statement carried by the KCNA.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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