N. Korea accuses South of undermining peace efforts

N. Korea accuses South of undermining peace efforts
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R)

SEOUL - North Korea has accused the South of deliberately undermining efforts to reduce military tensions and warned that prospects for the resumption of a high-level dialogue between the two rivals are "gloomy".

In a lengthy, 1,500-word despatch late Thursday, that condemned the South for its "persecution mania", hypocrisy and arrogance, the North's official KCNA news agency offered its version of secretive military talks on Wednesday that ended in stalemate.

The talks were meant to address tensions arising from two incidents involving brief live-fire exchanges on the inter-Korean land and maritime borders.

After the meeting in the border truce village of Panmunjom, the South issued a short statement that both sides had laid out their positions but failed to narrow their differences.

The KCNA despatch said the North had been forced to send three requests for a meeting before the South complied, and said its original proposal for a one-on-one meeting with National Security Advisor Kim Kwan-Jin was rejected.

It also complained that the South had originally insisted on keeping the talks secret, but then opted to make them public.

"The South side's attitude discouraged the North side and lashed it into fury," the agency said.

During the talks, the North demanded the South take measures to prevent activists launching anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border with gas-filled balloons.

Seoul maintained it had no legal grounds for banning the launches - a response that KCNA characterised as "a sort of mockery and insult."

It was a leaflet launch last Friday that triggered an exchange of heavy machine-gun fire across the heavily-fortified land border after the North's military tried to shoot down the activists' balloons.

The border incidents have jeopardised an agreement - reached during a surprise visit to the South by a top-ranking North delegation earlier this month - to resume high-level talks suspended since February.

"It is an undeniable reality that the prospect for holding the North-South high-level contact is gloomy," KCNA said.

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