Seoul: North Korea proposed a summit with South Korea even after tensions mounted dramatically over the deadly sinking of one of Seoul`s warships, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
The impoverished communist state made the proposal last month in an apparent bid to secure economic aid from South Korea but the idea was rejected by Seoul, Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported, quoting an unnamed high-ranking official.
"North Korea sent us a request to hold an inter-Korean summit even after it sank the (warship)," the official said, referring to what South Korea says was an attack by North Korea on a corvette in March that killed 46 sailors.
"This is its typical carrot-and-stick strategy. North Korea superficially proclaims military retaliation against sanctions imposed on it, while suggesting an inter-Korean summit under the table."
But the South`s Unification Ministry denied the report.
"The report is not true," spokeswoman Lee Jong-Joo told reporters. "North Korea has yet to change its attitude."
Pyongyang had wanted Seoul to resume economic assistance before any summit between President Lee Myung-Bak and its leader Kim Jong-Il, Dong-A said.
It called for a summit last December, designating then South Korean labour minister Yim Tae-Hee as dialogue partner, but Seoul failed to give a clear answer to Pyongyang for months, the paper said.
Yim, one of Lee`s close confidants, reportedly held a secret meeting with a North Korean official in Singapore late last year in an unsuccessful attempt to arrange a summit.