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N. Korea blames S. Korea for collapse of inter-Korean talks


North Korea on Thursday blamed South Korea for the scrapping of an inter-Korean governmental meeting planned for this week that would have been the first of its kind in six years.

A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement that the high-level talks "proved abortive due to the south Korean puppet authorities' arrogant obstructions and deliberate disturbance," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

The statement by the CPRK, which handles cross-border relations, said, "The recent impolite and immoral provocative behavior of the puppet group made us think once again whether it will be possible either to properly discuss matters or improve the inter-Korean relations even if the talks between authorities are opened in the future."

"We have nothing to expect from the talks between authorities of the north and the south," it said.

In response to the North's statement, a South Korean Unification Ministry official said it is "regrettable that North Korea distorted the process of the working-level talks and one-sidedly made it public."

"We keep the door for dialogue (with North Korea) open and North Korea should agree to holding the inter-Korean talks with sincerity and in a responsible manner," the official said.

The CPRK's statement said that South Korea "demanded the director of the United Front Department head the delegation as he is counterpart of the minister of Unification of the south side, a revelation of its ignorance of the social system in the DPRK," referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Never has there been such a precedent in which a secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea officially took part in the talks between the authorities in the decades-long history of the north-south dialogue," it said.

The two-day talks scheduled to start on Wednesday in Seoul were called off Tuesday after the sides failed to resolve differences over the level of chief delegates.

South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung Seok said that North Korea opposed South Korea's naming of a vice minister as its chief delegate instead of Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl Jae, whose ministry handles inter-Korean relations.

South Korea downgraded the level of its chief delegate after North Korea, at working-level talks held at the weekend, refused to accept Seoul's request that the North Korean delegation be led by Kim Yang Gon, the head of the United Front Department of the Workers' Party of Korea.

At the talks, the two Koreas were expected to discuss two suspended business projects and other issues concerning bilateral ties.