South Korea president urges North to resume dialogue with Seoul

Other News Materials 11 July 2008 12:41 (UTC +04:00)

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak on Friday urged North Korea to again take up reconciliation talks with Seoul in the wake of recent progress in nuclear talks with Pyongyang, reported dpa.

"Full dialogue between the two Koreas must resume," Lee said in a speech during the opening session of the new National Assembly.

His government is ready to discuss the implementation of agreements made at the 2000 and 2007 summits between the two countries as well as aid for impoverished North Korea, Lee said.

Both those summits took place under Lee's liberal predecessors, but relations with North Korea have cooled since the conservative took office in February. He angered Pyongyang when he made economic cooperation with the North contingent on progress by Pyongyang toward denuclearization.

Six-nation nuclear talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear programmes have made headway recently. North Korea submitted a long-awaited declaration of its nuclear activities in late June under an agreement with the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

The day after handing over the declaration to China, North Korea destroyed a cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear plant in a move to show it would dismantle its controversial programme.

Lee's speech also came the same day that South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Pyongyang has agreed to begin international verification of its plutonium inventory within one month, marking another key step toward dismantling its nuclear programme.

"North Korea has agreed to the beginning of the process before the US measure to remove it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism takes effect on August 11," the agency quoted unidentified informed sources as saying.

News of the agreement came as envoys from six nations were scheduled to hold a second day of talks in Beijing on ending North Korea's nuclear programme after a nine-month break in negotiations.