SEOUL, OCT. 17 -- The prime ministers of the two Koreas opened a second round of historic talks today in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, but refused to budge from their conflicting blueprints for easing tensions.
South Korea's Kang Young Hoon and his North Korean counterpart, Yon Hyong Muk, gave repackaged versions of the speeches delivered at their first encounter in Seoul last month. This time, though, both prime ministers wheeled out some of the ritual denunciations that were absent when they politely initiated the highest-level contacts held since their hostile regimes were founded in 1948.
The end of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War has increased domestic and foreign pressures on both Koreas -- particularly the North -- to end their hostility. But today's meeting showed few signs of progress.
North Korea's Yon, in a 29-page speech, called again for a halt to Seoul's annual military exercises with the United States and demanded the release of several South Korean dissidents jailed after they visited Pyongyang. He urged Seoul to abandon its efforts to upgrade its observer status at the United Nations to full membership and said South Korea's call for mutual diplomatic recognition would perpetuate the peninsula's division.
Yon, whose relaxed manner in Seoul last month impressed many officials here, renewed his call for a non-aggression treaty, which both sides have proposed but never agreed on. Seoul currently prefers taking up political or cultural matters before tackling military issues.
South Korea's Kang rejected North Korea's call for releasing political prisoners, saying it is an "internal affair" and warning that he might begin taking issue with Pyongyang's human rights record. Kang, who like Yon serves as a figurehead under a powerful president, called for economic exchanges and reunions of the millions of family members separated by the division of Korea.
In the kind of critical remark that he avoided last month, Kang demanded that Pyongyang abandon what he said is its goal of inspiring revolution in Seoul. He also accused North Korea of "doing things that foment division."
After their speeches, the prime ministers exchanged testy comments, according to pool reports. "Can problems be solved if both sides do not discuss truth -- or if we irritate each other's nerves?" Yon complained. Kang shot back, "Didn't the northern side make remarks irritating to us?"
After a closed-door negotiating session Thursday morning, Kang is scheduled to meet President Kim Il Sung, 78, the only leader North Korea has known and the world's longest-ruling head of state. Kang is expected to renew South Korean President Roh Tae Woo's offer to hold an inter-Korean summit.