North Korea says the South has intentionally ruined planned high-level talks between the two countries by making ‘arrogant obstructions’ to the negotiations.
The two Koreas had initially come to an agreement to hold their first high-level talks in six years in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on June 12 and 13. However, the talks were canceled at the last minute after a row over protocol.
The talks were agreed upon after months of military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
“The South side had no intent to hold dialogue from the beginning,” said a spokesman for the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), which is the state body that handles inter-Korean issues.
The spokesman added in a Thursday statement published on the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that South Korea sought to “create an obstacle to the talks, delay and then torpedo them.” He also accused Seoul of “deliberate disturbance” by changing the head of the South Korean delegation to the talks.
“This impolite and immoral provocative behavior made us think once again whether it will be possible to properly discuss matters or improve relations even if official talks are opened in the future.”
The talks failed when North Korea said Seoul’s nomination of a vice minister as its chief delegate was an insult. Pyongyang canceled the dispatch of its delegation after South Korea refused to upgrade to a cabinet minister.
The main focus of the negotiations was to be on re-opening two suspended commercial projects – the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Zone, and South Korea tours to the North’s Mount Kumgang resort.
Kaesong is located on the North Korean side of the fortified border and houses the operations of over 120 South Korean companies, employing both South and North Korean workers.