South Korea Blames North for Cancelled Talks
South Korea's unification minister says the cancellation of high-level talks with the North is an unfortunate but necessary part of its new relationship with Pyongyang.
The talks, which were to be held Wednesday in Seoul, were called off at the last minute because of what appears to be a relatively minor disagreement over who would represent each country.
Unification minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said Wednesday the blame for the cancelled talks lies with the North, which he said must show sincerity if it wants improved relations with Seoul.
South Korean officials say the North refused to send officials to the talks because it was offended by the South's nomination of a vice-minister, rather than minister, as its chief delegate.
Just days earlier, Pyongyang had rejected Seoul's offer to hold minister-level negotiations, which the two Koreas have not held since 2007. There has been no public statement by the North on the status of the talks.
Seoul said Wednesday that North Korea is not answering an inter-governmental hotline that Pyongyang restored last week in an effort to coordinate the negotiations.
US, Britain to Discuss Syria Amid Reports of Sectarian Killings
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosts his British counterpart for talks Wednesday on Syria, as activists report anti-government rebels killed dozens of Shi'ites in a town in eastern Deir el-Zour province.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group that has reported abuses on both sides of the conflict, told VOA most of the 60 victims in the town of Hatla late Tuesday were pro-government Shi'ite militiamen.
A video posted online by rebels showed dozens of gunmen carrying black Islamist flags celebrating and firing guns as smoke curled above several buildings in Hatla. The Observatory said rebels secured control of the town and burned down a number of houses in the Shi'ite district. Shi'ite civilians then fled.
A Syrian government official denounced the attack, calling it a "massacre" of civilians.
In Washington, Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague will consider potential steps to achieve their goal of establishing a transitional government in Syria to lead the country out of more than two years of turmoil.