07 June 2017

News Report: We Need to Talk - Pyongyang Urges Seoul to Uphold Summit Agreements

A day after North Korea rebuffed calls from South Korean civic groups to resume cross-border exchanges, Pyongyang is encouraging bilateral cooperation with Seoul by urging them to enforce summit declarations signed by the two countries in 2000 and 2007.

The sincerity of Seoul’s new government, under the leadership of recently elected President Moon Jae-in, regarding its desire to improve inter-Korean relations will be judged by its stance on the agreements, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of Pyongyang’s ruling Worker’s Party

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) protested the South’s support of United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang for its ongoing nuclear weapons and missile activities by spurning calls for exchanges from religious and civic groups in the South, according to Yonhap News.

In an editorial published in Rodong Sinmun, headlined "North-South declarations must be respected and enforced," the paper wrote, "We cannot say that the relations between the North and South will improve automatically because of [Seoul] having approved some humanitarian assistance and civilian exchanges that conservatives [in the South] have severed."

"The fundamental way to address the root cause of the impasse in the inter-Korean relations and open a wide path towards peace and unification is to respect and enforce the joint declarations," the piece added.

Signed on June 15, 2000, and Oct. 4, 2007, the two declarations detailed agreements to promote reconciliation, strengthen cooperation and reduce military tensions. This effort has been stalled in part by aggression from the North, including two attacks in 2010 that left 50 South Koreans dead. 

Moon, who narrowly lost to recently impeached conservative president Park Geun-Hye in 2012, has expressed willingness to improve relations North Korea and spoke of the need to have a summit with the isolated nation during his campaign. 

During his oath-taking ceremony Moon said that he was willing to visit Pyongyang, in addition to the US, China and Japan, as he is "willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula."

A major sticking point for the North is the presence of the US' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) installed in South Korea, along with trilateral military exercises taking place near the peninsula between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.