N Korea sought summit before warship sinking: Report
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Last Updated: Monday, August 02, 2010, 12:21
  
Seoul: North Korea attacked a South Korean warship after the South balked at its request for economic aid in return for a proposed summit, a report said on Monday.

The North's request was delivered through a senior member of the South's ruling Grand National Party last December, Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported, quoting sources familiar with Pyongyang.

It said the North demanded that the South pledge economic assistance including 300,000 tons of fertiliser before any summit between President Lee Myung-Bak and its leader Kim Jong-Il.

It also called for the establishment of an unofficial channel for inter-Korean dialogue, designating then-South Korean Labour Minister Yim Tae-Hee as dialogue partner, the paper said.

The Unification Ministry and the presidential office had no comment on the report.

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. He became chief of presidential staff last month.

Seoul, however, failed to give a clear answer to Pyongyang for months because of intense debate among its top policymakers, Dong-A said.

In February, Lee said he would not reward North Korea for agreeing to hold a fence-mending summit.

In March, according to South Korean and US officials, a North Korean submarine torpedoed the corvette near the disputed sea border with the loss of 46 lives.

The first-ever summit was held in 2000 and a second in 2007, when Seoul's left-leaning leaders were practising a "sunshine" aid and engagement policy with Pyongyang.

Lee, a conservative, took office in 2008 and linked major aid to progress in the North's nuclear disarmament, sparking anger in Pyongyang. Nevertheless, the impoverished North put out peace feelers late last summer.

PTI


First Published: Monday, August 02, 2010, 12:21


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