12/16/2015

Talks End Abruptly



The mutual recriminations after the failure of North and South Korea's latest talks underline the depth of distrust and animosity that has plagued cross-border relations for decades.

The rare high-level talks ended Saturday night after two days of marathon negotiations produced no agreement on any issues -- not even an agreement on whether to meet again. 

The talks between vice ministers, with a mandate to address a broad but unspecified range of inter-Korean issues, were the first of their type for nearly two years.

While no substantial breakthrough had been expected, hopes for some tangible progress in stalled cooperation projects were dashed as the meeting became deadlocked from the very beginning over the agenda. 

The cash-strapped North wanted the South to resume lucrative tours to its scenic Mount Kumgang resort, which Seoul suspended in 2008 after a female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard. 

But Seoul refused to talk about the issue and sought instead to focus on ways to hold another round of family reunions for those separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. 

Pyongyang tried to make the resumption of the tours a precondition for discussions on reunions, according to Seoul's chief delegate Hwang Boo-Gi. 

The North's state agency KCNA later accused Seoul of refusing to discuss "core issues" and resorting to "unreasonable assertion" that hobbled the talks. 

Previous efforts to establish a regular dialogue have often quickly faltered after an initial meeting -- a reflection of the deep mistrust between two countries that have remained technically at war since their conflict six decades ago.       Read more:



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