UPDATE : 2018.3.19 MON 17:20
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N. Korean media urges stronger inter-Korean cooperation ahead of bilateral talks

North Korea's state media on Sunday called for inter-Korean cooperation as the two Koreas are set to hold their first formal talks in more than two years early this week.

The two sides agreed Friday to hold high-level talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday to discuss Pyongyang's possible participation in the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

"The entire process of past North-South relations shows that efforts to improve bilateral ties can come to fruition only when the two sides work together based upon cooperation among Korean people," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an article.

"The will to enhance North-South relations must be backed up not by words, but by practical actions to foster inter-Korean reconciliation and unity, and reunification," it added

The KCNA said that any move to block inter-Korean contact through "improper pretexts and legal and institutional tools" is only a "deceptive" gambit to misguide public opinion at home and abroad.

It was apparently referring to rising criticism by conservatives in the South that Seoul's possible financial support for the North's athletes likely to join the Winter Games could breach international sanctions resolutions.

The upcoming talks have raised hopes for a thaw in the cross-border ties that have been strained by the communist state's relentless provocations, including nuclear and long-range missile tests last year.

Conservatives, however, have voiced concerns that the North could use the sporting event to blunt the momentum for global sanctions, sow discord among South Koreans, and drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington. (Yonhap)

Lee Sam-sun  edt@koreapost.com

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