N. Korea repeats call on S. Korea to halt joint drills with U.S. forces
SEOUL-- North Korea once again urged South Korea to remove all sanctions against the communist country and stop the latter's joint military exercises with the United States as part of conditions to resume inter-Korean dialogue.
The North, however, insisted its nuclear issue must stay off the dialogue table between the divided Koreas, despite the issue possibly being the largest reason the new Seoul government seeks to resume dialogue with the reclusive North.
In what it called an "open questionnaire" addressed to South Korean authorities, the North's Consultative Council for National Reconciliation accused South Korea's new Moon Jae-in administration of keeping silent about the "fundamental and principled issue" for improving the relations between the two Koreas.
Such fundamental issues, according to the questionnaire carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, apparently included an immediate and unconditional halt of joint military drills between South Korean and U.S. troops.
"Can you make a decision to stop the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises, main factor of aggravating the situation on the Korean peninsula," it asked.
It also urged the South to stop working with any other countries seeking to punish the North for its military provocations.
"Do you have a willingness to reject cooperation with foreign forces and solve the North-South relations independently on the basis of the idea of By Our Nation Itself," it said.
"Are you ready to come out for a dialogue with the DPRK, without raising "the North's nuclear issue," it added. DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The North's nine-question statement also included a renewed demand to return all North Koreans who have defected to South Korea, but it claims have been abducted by the South.
More than 30,000 North Koreans have come to South Korea after fleeing their reclusive homeland as of November 2016, according to Seoul's unification ministry.
South Korean President Moon has repeatedly stressed a need to resume dialogue with the North.
However, he has also stated existing sanctions against the North cannot be removed unless the communist state first shows a willingness to scrap or at least freeze its nuclear and missile provocations.
Pyongyang has staged five missile tests since the new South Korean president came into office last month.
In a recent interview with reporter, Moon insisted additional and much stronger sanctions must be imposed on the North should Pyongyang conduct another nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
Source: Yonhap News Agency