North Korea calls on South Korea to enforce summit agreements
Du Ri Jang, June 6, 2017, 9:39 a.m.
North Korea on Tuesday urged Seoul to enforce inter-Korean summit declarations signed in 2000 and 2007 to promote bilateral cooperation and reconciliation, a day after it spurned offers by South Korean civic groups to resume exchanges.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling Workers Party, also said that the new Seoul government's stance on the agreements will be a touchstone to judge whether it sincerely hopes to enhance cross-border ties.
On Monday, the North rejected the South Korean civic and religious groups' overtures for exchanges in protest against Seoul's backing for U.N. Security Council sanctions adopted last week to punish Pyongyang's recent missile provocations.
"We cannot say that the relations between the North and South will improve automatically because of (Seoul) having approved some humanitarian assistance and civilian exchanges that conservatives (in the South) have severed," the daily said in an editorial titled, "North-South declarations must be respected and enforced."
"The fundamental way to address the root cause of the impasse in the inter-Korean relations and open a wide path towards peace and unification is to respect and enforce the joint declarations," it added.
The two declarations, signed during inter-Korean summits on June 15, 2000, and Oct. 4, 2007, outlined bilateral agreements to reduce military tensions, bolster exchanges and cooperation, and promote mutual reconciliation.
But inter-Korean exchanges came to a halt amid Pyongyang's relentless provocations, including two deadly attacks in 2010 that killed a total of 50 South Koreans.
With last month's election of liberal President Moon Jae-in, hopes for a thaw in cross-border relations have emerged. But it remains to be seen whether his professed policy to employ both dialogue and sanctions would work as Pyongyang's military threats continue unabated, observers said.