Monday, February 21, 2011

The spin from North Korea’s side

The spin from North Korea’s side, as reported in the Russian press RIA Novosti:

Early this month, the South and North Korean army command envoys met in Panmunjom, on the de facto border between the two countries, to reach an agreement on the agenda, date, and location for the higher level talks suggested by Pyongyang at the end of January.

Pyongyang launched “a peaceful offensive” including a series of initiatives meant to revive the inter-Korean dialog in the spheres of politics, economy, etc. Initially, Seoul seemed unreceptive but – largely under pressure from Washington – had to accept Pyongyang's offer to organize contacts between the army commands.

The impression by the end of the first day of Panmunjom talks was fairly positive as the South Korean media reported profound discussions in a heated but still constructive atmosphere. However, fundamental disagreements over basically every issue on the table surfaced the very next day and bridging the gaps turned out to be impossible. The consultations were therefore suspended on February 9 and the North Korean delegation withdrew in a demonstrative manner without even trying to schedule another meeting.

Seoul described the outcome as a collapse and predictably blamed it on Pyongyang. The North's envoy similarly shifted the whole responsibility to Seoul in a statement referring to the North Korean administration as a puppet and claiming that the people of North Korea see no point in sustaining the dialog.

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