Report: S. Korea wants nuclear talks

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- South Korea will ask North Korea for resumption of the six-nation denuclearization talks as the two sides agreed to hold military talks, an official said.

Seoul will send a message to the North Wednesday or Thursday calling for the talks on the North's denuclearization, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Tuesday.


The talks between the two Koreas, along with China, Russia, the United States and Japan, have stalled since December 2008 after the North withdrew. Since then, tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated with the sinking of a South Korean war ship and the North's shelling of a South Korean border island.

"Inter-Korean talks will give the same amount of importance to the denuclearization issue as to the question of North Korea taking responsible steps" over the sinking of the ship and the island shelling, Chonsun Ilbo quoted a government official as saying. "If the North accepts our proposal, we'll propose a preliminary round of high-level denuclearization talks."

The report quoted a Unification Ministry official as saying there will be no military talks if the North admits only to the deadly island shelling last November while denying any role in the sinking of the ship last March in which 46 sailors died.

The nuclear talks are designed to persuade the North to give up its nuclear program in return for massive aid. The North has so far conducted two nuclear tests.

During Chinese President Hu Jintao's U.S. visit last week, there were media reports Washington informed Beijing it would redeploy its forces in the region if China doesn't put more pressure on North Korea to improve relations with the South.

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