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South Korea says willing to discuss North's demand to lift sanctions

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 11:45
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South Korean National Security Adviser Kim Kwan Jin (right) shaking hands with Mr Hwang Pyong So (left), the top military aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after talks in Panmunjom, in this photo released yesterday.

[SEOUL] South Korea is willing to discuss North Korea's demand for an end to sanctions imposed over a 2010 naval attack, the South said on Wednesday, a day after the rivals struck a landmark pact that defused a standoff between their forces.

South Korea is preparing to open a new channel of dialogue with the North after the Tuesday accord, in which North Korea expressed regret over a landmine incident that wounded South Korean soldiers and the South agreed to stop anti-North Korea propaganda being broadcast over border loudspeakers. "When talks get under way, we think the May 24 issue will be raised by the North which has an interest in it, and I think it can be handled through dialogue," South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told a briefing.

Mr Jeong was referring to May 24, 2010, when South Korea announced sanctions that cut off most exchanges with the North, including tourism, trade and private aid, after it accused the North of a torpedo attack on a navy ship that killed 46 sailors.

North Korea denied any role in the attack and had called for the lifting of the sanctions before any talks could begin.

South Korea had demanded an apology from the North as a precondition for lifting the sanctions, but has appeared to relax its stance since late last year amid rising domestic sentiment in favour of re-engaging with the North.

In their agreement reached just after midnight on Tuesday, the two sides pledged to hold talks to discuss a range of issues on improving ties.

REUTERS