DPRK rejects Seoul's summit proposal
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has rejected Seoul's conditional proposal for three summits between the two countries' leaders, a National Defense Commission spokesman said on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.
South Korea asked the DPRK to apologize first over the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the artillery shelling on the Yonphyong Island last year, DPRK's official KCNA news agency quoted the spokesman as saying.
South Korea has proposed holding summit meetings in late June, August and March next year as well as ministerial-level preparatory talks in late May this year, according to the report.
The government of Lee Myung-bak had repeatedly told the DPRK since April that it would no longer bring up the two incidents to make way for secret contacts to discuss issues concerning the summits, the report said.
But when the two sides met secretly in Beijing on May 9, South Korea said the two incidents needed to be "wisely overcome" and repeated its demand for apology from Pyongyang, the report said, noting that the demand was a violation of Seoul's promise.
The DPRK rejected the apology demand during the secret meeting as nonsense and made clear that it would not talk about summit talks conditioned on an apology, according to the report.
The DPRK side said the summits were out of the question as long as South Korea continued its hostile policy toward the DPRK, noting that it was Pyongyang's firm standpoint, the report said.
South Korea then asked for a concession from the DPRK, saying it would be acceptable should Pyongyang express regret, not an apology, it said.
Comments from the South Korean government were not immediately available.
The 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan with 104 crew members onboard sank near the maritime border with the DPRK on March 26 last year after an unexplained explosion. Only 58 sailors survived.
Seoul claimed Cheonan was sunk in a DPRK torpedo attack.
Pyongyang has rejected Seoul's long-running demand for an apology for the incidents, saying it has noting to do with the sinking of Cheonan and that the shelling of Yonphyong was part of its "self-defensive measure" against South Korea-U.S. joint military drills.