Seoul still wants dialogue with Pyongyang: official

SEOUL - South Korea said Friday it still wants dialogue with North Korea despite a series of strongly worded attacks from Pyongyang following the death of its leader Kim Jong-Il.

The North late Thursday published what it called a "White Paper", blasting President Lee Myung-Bak's government as a "group of traitors" and accusing it of pushing inter-Korean ties to the lowest point in years.

Despite such attacks, "it's better for South-North relations to move along the path toward co-existence and co-prosperity while maintaining peace and stability", said Kim Hyung-Suk, a spokesman for Seoul's unification ministry which handles cross-border issues.

"In this context, we find it necessary to set up a stable dialogue channel and when it's in place we will be able to discuss and resolve pending issues through dialogue between responsible authorities."

Relations have been icy since the South accused the North of responsibility for two deadly cross-border incidents in 2010.

In recent weeks the North has accused the South's government of showing disrespect during the mourning period for Kim, who died on December 17 and was succeeded by his son Jong-Un.

On Thursday the North's state Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said Lee's government had escalated confrontation and staged a smear campaign.

It said the South Korean military was put on alert following the announcement of Kim's sudden death and accused the Seoul government of "levelling the gun at the fellow countrymen shedding tears in great grief".

"All the facts show that the Lee Myung-Bak group of traitors is the number one group of maniacs keen on confrontation and war," it said, warning that "the group will face only merciless punishment".