South Korea said Friday it wanted Pyongyang to apologise for the sinking of one of its warships before it could consider a resumption of North Korea nuclear disarmament talks.
The comments followed a visit by a top Chinese envoy to Pyongyang this week to discuss the disarmament process, which has been stalled since communist North Korea stormed out in April last year.
“First of all, the North should take some sincere measures concerning the Cheonan incident,” South Korea’s foreign ministry deputy spokesman Shin Maeong-Ho told AFP.
“Under the current circumstances, it’s too early to talk about the resumption of the six-party talks,” he said in reference to the multilateral forum aimed at inducing the North to give up its nuclear arsenal.
Tensions have been running high on the Korean peninsula since the March sinking of the Cheonan with the loss of 46 lives, with Seoul and Washington accusing the North of torpedoing the corvette.
Pyongyang has vehemently denied it was involved and fired off a barrage of threats and warnings to South Korea and the United States, which have been staging a series of military drills in a show of force against the North.
Wu Dawei, China’s special envoy on Korean affairs, travelled to North Korea from Monday to Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
He “exchanged views with North Korea about maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and restarting the process of the six-party talks,” it said on Thursday.
South Korean Foreign minister Yu Myung-Hwan also said Tuesday that the North should first apologise for the sinking and demonstrate its willingness to give up its nuclear programmes through negotiations.
“Many people are sceptical about the North’s sincerity in the six-party talks,” he said.
“It is not the right time for us to talk about exit strategies (out of the current tension) such as resuming the six-party talks,” he said.
The multinational forum — which includes the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States — have been stalled since Pyongyang walked out in in April last year and then conducted its second nuclear test a month later.