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Seoul Hopes to Take Nuke Issue to S-N Talks


Seoul Hopes to Take Nuke Issue to S-N Talks

South Korea hopes to be able to make strides on the nuclear issue at the ministerial talks with North Korea in Pyongyang next week, Seoul’s chief negotiator for the talks said on Thursday (Oct. 9).

Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said he will make the nuclear issue a major agenda at the 12th Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks from Oct. 14-17.

“The nuclear crisis took a turn for the worse with North Korea claiming completion of reprocessing (nuclear fuel rods’) ten days ago,” he said in a weekly briefing to reporters at the Central Government Complex building.

Jeong added the Seoul government detected no signs of Pyongyang having resumed construction of a 50-megawatt reactor mothballed under a 1994 accord.

The minister said the officials “feel a tremendous responsibility” to convince the North that it must enter into more sincere and flexible negotiations.

This, added Jeong who just returned from a U.S. visit to meet with Korean-Americans and U.S. specialists on North Korea, applies partially to Washington too.

“I understand the U.S.’ lack of trust on North Korea, but the North isn’t someone whose possibility for change is nil,” he said. “The U.S. should remember what it did when it induced changes in Russia and China.”

The minister also offered results of last month’s food distribution monitoring by South Korean officials in three regions in North Korea, of the 100,000 tons of grain donated by South Korea.

“The monitoring dispelled much of our worries on diversion of food aid,” Jeong said, adding they were apparently handed out quickly and efficiently.

As with other food rations in the country, they were sold at a fixed price within the median income, he added.

“The North Koreans knew where the food was coming from, and expressed gratitude,” he added.

Jeong also said it was unclear whether South Korea can give fertilizer aid to North Korea in time for the fall harvest season this year as the government deems further consultation with the National Assembly necessary.

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