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Seoul blocks anniversary committee's visit to North Korea

June 2, 2013 at 10:54 AM

SEOUL, June 2 (UPI) -- South Korean officials refused permission for a group of its citizens to visit North Korea to plan for the anniversary of the South-North Joint Declaration.

The declaration signed by the two Koreas on June 15, 2000, calls for the nations to work together on cultural, economic and reunification matters, but Seoul's unification ministry decided the current climate between the two neighbors was too tense.

A South Korean committee planning a joint meeting to mark the anniversary of the declaration planned to visit the northern border city of Kaesong Monday to work on the preparations; however, the unification ministry canceled the visit.

"The government nixed the committee's request for a visit to the North," a ministry official told South Korea's Yonhap news agency. "We explained to the committee why the government reached the decision."

Yonhap said the ministry had earlier said the anniversary event was causing dissent over the government's policy toward the North. Officials said Pyongyang should speak directly to the South Korean leadership if they wanted to improve relations.

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