Posted December. 08, 2011 04:08,
The two Koreas held secret talks last month on reunions of Korean families separated by the Korean War but failed to agree due to North Korea`s demand for large-scale rice assistance, a South Korean civic leader said Wednesday.
Kim Kyu-cheol, the head of the South-North Forum, a South Korean organization for inter-Korean economic cooperation, said, "I understand that South and North Korean officials held two rounds of talks in Beijing last month on reunions of separated families on Lunar New Year`s Day next year."
"The North demanded that the South provide 50,000 tons of food and resume inter-Korean economic cooperation projects, but the South rejected this."
Kim said the meetings were not high-level negotiations but working-level contacts for expressing mutual positions, adding, "After the talks collapsed, Pyongyang began to blatantly denounce Seoul."
In Red Cross talks in October, the North demanded 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer in return for regular family reunions.
The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun also reported Wednesday that high-ranking officials of the two Koreas had a secret contact last month, but produced no results due to Pyongyang`s demand of hundreds of thousands of tons of rice.
Asahi said that in the talks, the North urged large-scale assistance while the South demanded an apology for Pyongyang`s armed provocations last year and denuclearization measures.
A spokesperson at the Unification Ministry in Seoul denied the report. An official at the South Korean presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae said, however, "It is possible that not every working-level contact between the two Koreas is reported."
The North toned down its verbal offensive against the South from August, refraining from directly accusing President Lee Myung-bak. Since mid-November, however, Pyongyang has stepped up its rhetoric of denouncing the South, indicating that the collapse of the secret talks prompted the North`s change in attitude.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of the North`s Workers` Party, blasted the South Nov. 23 for its "flexible measures" toward Pyongyang, saying, "South Korean authorities talk about dialogue and cooperation in rhetoric but are hindering even minor cooperation and exchanges."
A day later, the Supreme Command of the North Korean military denounced the South Korean military`s drills on the west coast, warning that the "sea of fire on Yeonpyeong Island" will escalate into a "sea of fire that will obliterate the headquarters of the traitorous group."