At last week’s preliminary talks, North Korea continued to deny sinking the Cheonan and killing 46 crew members, despite the finding of an international panel that a North Korean torpedo was responsible. Pyongyang has issued only regrets for the loss of civilian life on Yeonpyeong.
“North Korea did not show the level of sincerity that we had expected” at the meeting, says Kim Kiwoong, director general of the policy office at Seoul’s Ministry of Unification, which manages relations with North Korea.
“North Korea must be sincere about no more provocation,” Mr. Kim adds. “We must have talks based on such foundations if they are to have any outcome.”
Behind the scenes, say Korean officials, the United States has been urging Seoul to accept North Korea’s offer to restart talks after a series of military maneuvers that signaled South Korea’s readiness for an armed response to any further attack.
At their summit last month, US President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao said in a joint statement that they had “agreed that sincere and constructive inter-Korean dialogue is an essential step.”