Friday, June 01, 2007

Inter-Korea talks break down over rice dispute

High-level talks between two Koreas broke down amid a dispute over Seoul's suspension of food aid.

The 21st inter-Korean ministerial talks were bogged down by Pyongyang's protest to Seoul's decision to withhold a shipment of rice until Pyongyang follows through with a nuclear deal reached earlier this year.

Unification Minister Lee Jae-Joung, Seoul's chief delegate, told reporters that rice was the most difficult issue and that there were "frank discussions" on the matter.

On Thursday, North Korea's chief delegate Kwon Ho-ung lodged a protest against the delay in the rice provision. The South refused to concede, saying the rice aid is "difficult under the circumstances."

The dispute prevented the two Koreas from tackling other topics such as how to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to sources.

[Excerpt of an article by Jin Dae-woong, The Korea Herald]

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