North Korea Sends Letter To South Urging Reconciliation

North Korea pens an open letter saying it wants "reconciliation and unity" with its southern neighbor.
Posted at 10:48 AM, Jan 24, 2014

North Korea is extending an olive branch to South Korea, saying it wants "reconciliation and unity" and calling for an end to "hostile military acts."

It comes in the form of an open letter penned by North Korea's National Defense Commission. The wide-ranging memo calls for a complete "halt [of] hostile military acts, [to allow] the reunion of ... families and relatives" separated by the Korean War, and to re-energize "multi-faceted north-south cooperation and exchanges." (Via CNN, CBS)

But Seoul responded by dismissing the letter, explaining it has its doubts about the letter's true intentions, given its peculiar timing. 

It comes just weeks before annual military drills between South Korea and the U.S. are set to take place. North Korea has long condemned the joint military operations, which it says lead to an unnecessary surge in tensions between the countries. (Via BBC)

If you recall, North Korea threatened an all-out nuclear strike on both the South and U.S. last year after nuclear-capable stealth bombers flew practice runs over the peninsula. (Via ABC)

Pyongyang offered up a similar truce last year before that provocation. This most recent reconciliation attempt doesn't come without a catch. 

The North is calling on its southern counterpart to halt the annual drills with the U.S., but also to respect its claim to its "precious nuclear force for self-defense." (Via Al Jazeera)

The New York Times has Seoul's response to that: "The North should demonstrate its sincerity through action. ... We cannot help but question its sincerity because it has often launched provocations following its peace offensives in the past."

U.S. officials have said they have no intention of calling off the annual war games with South Korea.