South Korea willing to restart dialogue with North

ISTANBUL: South Korea said on Friday that it will seek to “normalize” relations with the North through “direct and indirect” contacts.

“While the South will sternly counter North Korea’s provocations through cooperation based on the strong Seoul-Washington alliance, the government will also make efforts to restart inter-Korean dialogue this year,” Seoul-based Yonhap News quoted a report submitted to President Yoon Suk Yeol by the country’s Unification Ministry.

However, Unification Minister Kwon Young-se clarified that the government “is not considering making a new offer of talks to Pyongyang, although it remains willing to resume dialogue at any time.”

“It is important for North Korea to come back to dialogue with sincerity,” he said at a press conference in Seoul.

“The government plans to seek direct and indirect contact with North Korea through civic groups and international organizations in a bid to open up chances to improve strained inter-Korean ties,” the ministry said.

The latest development comes after tensions on Korean Peninsula escalated late last year, when North Korea launched at least 60 missiles while South Korea and the US held joint military drills.

Drones from North Korea also crossed into South Korea, causing some airports to shut down.

“If inter-Korean dialogues restart, the ministry plans to put its priority on addressing issues stemming from the Koreas’ division, such as families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and South Koreans detained in the North,” the report said.

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