South Korea said on Tuesday that high-level talks with North Korea scheduled to begin in Seoul on Wednesday had been called off, after the two sides wrangled over who should lead the respective delegations.
“There will be no talks on Wednesday,” a spokeswoman for the South’s unification ministry said without giving a reason. It was not immediately clear if they had been postponed or cancelled indefinitely.
A South Korean government official had said earlier that there had been problems in agreeing what level of official should lead the talks on either side.The two Koreas finally exchanged lists of proposed members of their delegations on Tuesday afternoon.
“But the North said it had an issue with the chief delegate from our side,” the government official told AFP.
The scheduled talks had been seen as an opportunity to improve relations after months of elevated military tensions, that included threats from Pyongyang of nuclear war and warnings from Seoul of deadly counter-strikes to any provocation.
On the proposed agenda was the resumption of two suspended commercial projects, including the Kaesong joint industrial complex which the North shut down in April as the recent crisis peaked.
South Korea had wanted the two-day talks to be between its pointman on North Korea, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae, and his counterpart in Pyongyang, Kim Yang-Gon.
A dialogue at that ministerial level has not been held since 2007.