In a report to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak issued Wednesday, the Unification Ministry said Seoul would seek a discussions with Pyongyang to resolve "crucial issues," such as nuclear arms, and political and humanitarian matters, while keeping measures that would discipline North Korea should it engage in provocative behavior, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The report came as Lee said the stalled six-party talks are the only workable channel for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, signaling a willingness to work toward resuming negotiations that include the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
The report listed three goals for 2011, including leading North Korea to change in a positive manner, establishing sound inter-Korean relations and beginning preparations for reunification. The ministry also said it will push for discussions with North Korea on a comprehensive aid-for-denuclearization agreement with South Korea and step up monitoring for humanitarian aid.
An administration official in Seoul balanced any expectation for sudden breakthrough by saying, "North Korea has never been sincere in opening up its nuclear program to the rest of the world, including the six-party members," The New York Times reported.
Also, the South Korean Defense Ministry, in a biennial white paper expected to be released Thursday, will refer to the North Korean regime and military as "an enemy," officials told the Times. North Korea previously was described as a "direct and serious threat."
Relations are tense between the two Koreas after North Korea attacked the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong in November, killing two marines and two civilians. South Korea also holds North Korea responsible for the sinking of its warship, the Cheonan, near the western island in March.