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7 Jan, 2018 09:57

Intra-Korean talks are internal matter, foreign influence would create ‘complexity’ – KCNA

Intra-Korean talks are internal matter, foreign influence would create ‘complexity’ – KCNA

North Korea says the upcoming intra-Korean talks are a “great opportunity” for unification, but warns foreign parties against compromising the talks, state-run KCNA news agency said, commenting on a speech by Kim Jong-un.

In the editorial published on Saturday, KCNA stressed that bilateral relations are an “internal matter of the Korean people” that should be pursued without foreign interference, as it would “only create complexity in problem-solving.” The article also warned against moves to block intra-Korean talks through “improper pretexts and legal and institutional tools,” calling such efforts a “deceptive” gambit to misguide public opinion at home and abroad.

“Efforts to improve bilateral ties can come to fruition only when the two sides work together based upon cooperation among Korean people,” KCNA said, adding that the sides “should not be bound by the past,” and the will to improve relations should be backed by action.

In his New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un made it clear that he will respond firmly to any efforts by the US to destroy the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula. Claiming that the entire United States is “within range” of North Korea’s missiles, Kim warned that “a nuclear button is always on my desk.” At the same time, he signaled that Pyongyang is ready to mend cross-border ties with its neighbor.

“When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment,” Kim said, offering to resume communication and discuss Pyongyang’s potential participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea.

While Washington received North Korea’s statements with caution, Seoul welcomed its neighbor’s resolve. This week, the North and South re-established a channel of communication that had been frozen for nearly two years, and agreed to meet next Tuesday to discuss topics of mutual interest and North Korea’s possible participation in the Olympics in February.

READ MORE: 1st contact in nearly 2 years: North Korea calls South via cross-border hotline

On Sunday, North Korea selected a five-member delegation, headed by Ri Son-gwon, chairman of North Korea’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification, to participate in high-level talks to be held in the village of Panmunjom on January 9, Yonhap reported, citing Seoul officials. The head of the North Korea delegation has been taking part in various cross-border military talks since 2006, and is considered to be a close ally of Kim Young-chol, the vice chairman of the Central Committee of the North’s Workers’ Party. Earlier this week, South Korea also suggested sending a five-member delegation led by Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon.