S Korea admits it held secret talks with N Korea

Seoul: South Korea acknowledged on Thursday it held secret talks with North Korea last month, but denied the purpose was to arrange summit meetings between the sides, rebuffing Pyongyang`s claims it was "begged" to accept the plan.

Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, Seoul`s pointman on North Korea, was responding to lawmakers` questions at the National Assembly in Seoul one day after the North`s powerful National Defense Commission revealed what it said was discussed at secret meetings with the South from May 9.

The commission, headed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, said in a commentary carried by the country`s official Korean Central News Agency that Seoul proposed holding three summit meetings between late June and March next year. It also claimed Seoul suggested holding Cabinet-level talks in late May to lay the groundwork for the summit talks.