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S. Korea Blames North for Cancelled Talks

South Korea's unification minister says the cancellation of high-level talks with the North is an unfortunate but necessary part of its new relationship with Pyongyang.

The talks, which were to be held Wednesday in Seoul, were called off at the last minute because of what appears to be a relatively minor disagreement over who would represent each country.

Unification minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said Wednesday the blame for the cancelled talks lies with the North, which he said must show sincerity if it wants improved relations with Seoul.

"We could not bring about a result that our people were expecting. But I think it is one of the pains we have to go through for a new relationship between South and North Korea. North Korea should show sincerity for a new relationship between the two Koreas in the future."

South Korean officials say the North refused to send officials to the talks because it was offended by the South's nomination of a vice-minister, rather than minister, as its chief delegate.

Just days earlier, Pyongyang had rejected Seoul's offer to hold minister-level negotiations, which the two Koreas have not held since 2007. There has been no public statement by the North on the status of the talks.

Seoul said Wednesday that North Korea is not answering an inter-governmental hotline that Pyongyang restored last week in an effort to coordinate the negotiations.

Pyongyang unexpectedly offered to hold the negotiations. South Korea quickly agreed, and the two sides held working-level talks Sunday and early Monday in the border village of Panmunjom to try to determine the makeup of each side's delegation.

On the agenda for the proposed talks were the resumption of two stalled joint commercial projects, as well as the reunion of separated Korean families.

Some analysts said it was unlikely the discussions would touch on Pyongyang's nuclear program. Pyongyang has insisted that it will not give up the program, while the United States says abandoning the program is crucial to restoring the North's ties with the international community.

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