North Korea yesterday proposed negotiation of a nonaggression pact with South Korea in order, it said, to reduce tensions on the divided peninsula. The proposal was contained in a letter addressed to South Korea's National Assembly. It called for a meeting of parliamentarians from both Koreas to be held before the summer Olympic Games start in Seoul, South Korea, in September.
``Neither to the South nor to the North is confrontation and war beneficial,'' the letter said, according to a report from the North Korean Central News Agency monitored by Reuters. ``They cannot be good to the Olympic Games either and are only harmful to the World Festival of Youth and Students,'' referring to a communist assembly scheduled to take place in North Korea next year.
The North Korean letter was in a response to a letter sent on Monday from the National Assembly calling on the North to take part in the Olympics. North Korea is boycotting the games. Security officials fear the North could try to disrupt the games.
By directing its appeal to the National Assembly, the North Koreans are clearly continuing to refuse to accept the legitimacy of the government of President Roh Tae Woo. The assembly is controlled by the three major opposition parties.
North Korea, in an attempt to play to antigovernment forces in the south, has totally opposed government-to-government contacts, calling for ``people to people'' links. They have supported radical students in the South who are seeking direct talks with North Korean students.
The North Korean response yesterday was in clear contrast to their harsh rejection of several South Korean government proposals to ease tensions made in recent weeks. On July 7 President Roh made comprehensive suggestions for crossborder contacts, followed by a plan for exchanges of students.
The North's proposal says reduction of tensions must precede any visit exchange. It contains a draft declaration on abandoning use of arms, phased reduction of forces, and creation of a border buffer zone. Similar proposals have been floated before.