SEOUL: North and South Korea on Wednesday effectively ruled out the resumption of high-level talks this week, with each side accusing the other of undermining an agreement to get the suspended dialogue going again.
The two Koreas had decided earlier this month to restart the talks by early November, with South Korea proposing a meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday.
The North has since insisted that Seoul must first take steps to ban the practice of South Korean activists launching balloons with anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
Pyongyang’s top military body, the National Defense Commission, repeated the demand in a message sent to President Park Geun-Hye’s office on Wednesday morning.
“The North said it was our choice whether to hold the high-level talks or to allow launching of leaflets,” Seoul’s unification ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-Cheol.
Seoul argues that it has no legal grounds to stop the launches.
“We express our regret that holding the proposed talks on October 30 has become practically unlikely,” Lim said, while stressing that the decision to resume the dialogue still stood.
“The agreement is still valid, but the North should make a proposal for a date first,” Lim said.
The last round of high-level talks was held in February and resulted in the North hosting a rare reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.