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North Korea rejects talks with South in Asean forum

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North Korea rejects talks with South in Asean forum

/ 07:24 AM August 08, 2017

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, left, walks toward an escalator during ongoing meetings at the Philippine International Convention Center for the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. (Rolex Dela Pena/Pool Photo via AP)

SEOUL — North Korea rejected offers of talks from the South during a rare exchange between the two rivals’ foreign ministers, Seoul’s Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, after the United Nations imposed a new round of sanctions on nuclear-armed Pyongyang.

News of the brief encounter on the sidelines of a regional forum in Manila came as South’s President Moon Jae-in, in a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump, urged a “peaceful resolution” to the tensions.

Even a conventional conflict on the peninsula could cost a million dead or wounded within months, estimates say.

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Moon told Trump that the South “cannot let another war to break out” on the peninsula after the 1950-53 Korean War that sealed the division of the two Koreas, the presidential Blue House said in a statement.

The South’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha shook hands with her Northern counterpart Ri Yong-ho ahead of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum dinner on Sunday, Yonhap said.

‘Accept Seoul’s offers’

Kang urged Ri to accept Seoul’s offers of military talks to lower tensions on the divided peninsula, and for discussions on a new round of reunions for divided families.

But Ri retorted: “Given the current situation in which the South collaborates with the US to heap pressure on the North, such proposals lacked sincerity,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Kang reiterated again “the South’s sincerity” and repeated a call for Pyongyang to come forward for talks, the official said.

It was the first time Cabinet-level officials from the two Koreas had met since Moon—who urged engagement with the North as well as sanctions to bring it to the negotiating table—took power in May.

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TAGS: ASEAN, Donald Trump, Kang Kyung-wha, Moon Jae-in, North Korean missile crisis, Ri Yong Ho, South Korea
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