South Korea publicly indicated objections yesterday to proposals for tripartite talks under which the two Koreas and the United States would work out a plan for reuniting the divided peninsula.
The proposal was presented to President Carter by President Tito of Yugoslavia during his visit to the United States last month. Tito had visited North Korea last fall.
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Tong Jin said in an interview here that he saw little new in the idea. Park urged the United States and other allies to use caution in considering it.
"We believe we cannot afford to have the Korea question become a political football in international politics." he said.
There has been intense publicity here and much discussion within the government about the proposal. News stories, quoting government officials, have speculated that the United States is pressing South Korea to accept the plan as the first stage in a peaceful settlement.
Western sources say that the U.S. Embassy here has urged South Korea not to reject the idea out of hand but to make an attempt to obtain more details on how it would work.
Both U.S. and South Korean sources say they have no evidence that the Communist North is interested in sitting down with the South and the U.S. emissaries. In the past, it has declared it will not negotiate with South Koreans so long as the government of President Park Chung He is in power.
North Korea has insisted that it wants to negotiate own settlement directly with the United States. The United States in turn refuses to talk with North Korea unless South Korea is included in the discussions.
If North Korea is now favoring a three-party conference along the lines suggested by Tito, it would signify a radical change in its posture. There is no public indication, however, that North Korea has changed its mind.
The question of Korea was raised during a visit to Washington of another Communist leader, Nicolai Ceausescu of Romania, this month. Ceausescu is scheduled to visit North Korea this spring.
South Korean leaders assert that the proposal may be an attempt by North Korea to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington at a time when relations have already been strained by the U.S. troop withdrawal, the Tongsun Park scandal, and the recent allegation that the United States once had a bug in President Park's official residence.
In the interview yesterday, the foreign minister did not reject the idea of three-party talks categorically and said that so far he knew very little about it. He said he was relying on the United States to inform him of any details passed on by the two Communist leaders.
"Before we take a final position, we must know a lot more," he said. "Without knowing what is in the bag we cannot say whether it is useful for wasteful."
He stressed, however, that his government and the United States had exchanged views on a similar plan last year. "We took a negative position and so the United States government must remember this," he said. Park did not explain what plan had been discussed last year.