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North Korea Crisis

South Korea says North's decision to suspend inter-Korean meeting 'regrettable'

Seoul urges Pyongyang to come back to table

  © Kyodo

SEOUL -- The South Korean government said Wednesday that it was regrettable that North Korea had decided to suspend ministerial-level talks ahead of an upcoming summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

"It is regrettable that the North has suspended inter-Korean high-level talks with no consultation with us," said South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun. "The government has a firm will to carry out the Panmunjom Declaration faithfully, and urges the North side to come to the table quickly for the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula," Baik said.

Pyongyang called off the meeting to protest a military drill in South Korea. Seoul, for its part, urged the North to come back to the table soon.

The Unification Ministry said North Korea's suspension of the meeting violates the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration, which the leaders of the two countries agreed to during their summit in April. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim agreed then to improve relations and stop hostile activities.

The North's cancellation comes as the country prepares for a historic summit with the U.S. in Singapore on June 12. Both Washington and Pyongyang announced earlier this month that Trump and Kim will meet to discuss ways to denuclearize the peninsula.

The Unification Ministry said that the North had not objected to the Max Thunder exercise in their recent talks, indicating that Pyongyang's claim that the drills were to blame for the move does not make sense. The ministry also said that it agrees with the U.S. position that the exercise is defensive in nature and similar to drills it holds with other allies.

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