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North Korea calls for talks and reconciliation with South

Pyongyang sent an official statement saying there are no reasons not to host talks, if an atmosphere of trust and reconciliation can be created between the two sides.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea said on Monday that half a year has passed since both Koreas declared a desire to move forward with unification, and sent a letter suggesting top-level talks resume. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock
North Korea said on Monday that half a year has passed since both Koreas declared a desire to move forward with unification, and sent a letter suggesting top-level talks resume. Photo by Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

SEOUL, June 15 (UPI) -- North Korea announced its interest in resuming high-level dialogue with the South on Monday, the 15th anniversary of the signing of a Joint Declaration between the two Koreas.

Pyongyang sent an official statement saying there are no reasons not to host talks, if an atmosphere of trust and reconciliation can be created between the two sides, Yonhap reported.

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The official nature of the statement, according to the South Korean news agency, indicates the letter was sent from the highest level of the North Korean government. It has been almost a year since such a high-ranking letter has been delivered to Seoul.

North Korea said that half a year has passed since both sides declared a desire to move forward with unification. In order to fulfill the historic June 15th North-South Declaration, the statement read, concrete steps should be taken to make that vision a reality.

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Pyongyang's language, however, was steeped in a North Korean opposition to international "meddling" in Korea affairs and demanded the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises must come to an end. North Korea said the exercises have scuttled many opportunities at reconciliation.

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North Korea also said it is opposed to unification under one system, warning such a unilateral move could "only lead to war."

South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Seoul's Unification Ministry returned with a response, saying North Korea needs to encourage civic exchange, rather than putting forth "unreasonable preconditions" for talks.

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Pyongyang had said in the statement South Korean slander and "provocations" must come to an end, a request that the South could return in light of the North's past verbal attacks.

North Korea has previously called South Korean President Park Geun-hye a lunatic, idiot and a "cold-blooded animal."

Hankyoreh reported Seoul has apparently rejected the North's request for talks.

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