ROK to keep punitive measures against DPRK

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South Korea's Unification Ministry will not withdraw punitive measures put in place against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that allegedly launched a torpedo attack on a South Korean warship, even after the United Nations released a statement condemning the act, the ministry spokesman said Monday.

"I reassert that no changes have been made to the ministry's stance that it will continue carrying out measures (against the DPRK)," unification ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters in a briefing, referring to a slew of punitive steps Seoul has taken against Pyongyang for its alleged torpedo attack on the ship, including severing virtually all trade and exchanges.

The remark comes after the UN Security Council issued a presidential statement regarding the sinking in late March of the warship Cheonan, condemning the attack and expressing "deep concern".

Pyongyang, which has insisted on its innocence, said it has rejected the results issued by multinational investigators over the Cheonan sinking. The investigation claimed the Cheonan was sunken by a torpedo of the DPRK. The DPRK in a statement pledged efforts for reaching a peace treaty with South Korea and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula by returning to the stalled six-party talks.

The 1,200-ton Cheonan with 104 crew members onboard sank on March 26 near the maritime border with the DPRK after an unexplained explosion. Only 58 sailors were rescued alive.

Still, Seoul is not ready to extend an olive branch to its northern neighbor, Chun said: "At this point, there is nothing under consideration by the government, such as proposing talks with North Korea (DPRK)," the spokesman said.

Officials in Seoul have said that Pyongyang should apologize for the incident and hold those behind the attack accountable before reopening the moribund denuclearization talks, which the DPRK quit in April 2009.

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