SEOUL – The South Korean government said that North Korea’s recent cancellation of inter-Korean talks will not be permanent despite harsh messages from Pyongyang over the last two days.
“There has been no mention of completely calling off the dialogue,” an official from the South Korean presidential office told Yonhap news agency on Friday in response to comments made the previous day by Pyongyang’s inter-Korean affairs official, Ri Son-gwon.
Ri, who presides over the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, said in a statement published by the North Korean state news agency that “it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of south Korea.”
Pyongyang suspended a high-level meeting with Seoul on Wednesday, arguing that the joint maneuvers carried out at that time by South Korea and the United States were an attempt to invade North Korean territory and that it could complicate the upcoming summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
“Ri’s statements say that ‘it will not be easy,’ not that they will not meet again with us. Ri’s remarks (also) said it will not be easy, not that they will not hold talks,” added the official.
Seoul urged the Pyongyang regime on Wednesday to return to the dialogue table and to implement the principles agreed upon by Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Panmunjom Declaration on April 27.
In the declaration, the two Koreas, which are technically still at war, pledged to work together to establish peace and the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, a topic that will dominate the agenda of the upcoming US-North Korea summit in June.
The South Korean government also insisted that it will continue to act as a mediator between Washington and Pyongyang so that they can hold their summit on June 12 in Singapore, after the regime accused the Trump administration of pressuring it to unilaterally abandon the nuclear program.