SEOUL -- The Republic of Korea (ROK)'s top policymaker on inter-Korean affairs said Friday that the country could lift sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) if inter-Korean talks are resumed.
"I think it could be an opportunity to lift the May 24 measures if south-north talks are held," Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told a lecture in Seoul.
"Economic cooperation between the two Koreas is not allowed due to the May 24 sanctions, and the government has already studied on (the lifting of) the sanctions," Ryoo said.
The May 24 sanctions, which banned all inter-Korean cooperation except for the Kaesong industrial complex, were imposed by South Korea in 2010 after a South Korean Navy corvette sank in waters off the disputed western sea border.
South Korea said it was caused by a DPRK torpedo attack, but Pyongyang denied its involvement.
The DPRK cited the lifting of the sanctions as one of preconditions for resuming inter-Korean dialogue.
Ryoo stressed that the two Koreas should meet for talks, saying South Korea should continue to persuade the DPRK to keep its promises.
Seoul offered in December to hold senior-level talks with Pyongyang to discuss all issues of mutual concern.
On the DPRK's special economic zones, Ryoo said the DPRK economy can grow very rapidly if the DPRK open its economy and South Korea helps it, but the minister said the nuclear issue blocked such process.
Ryoo urged the DPRK to change its attitude toward the denuclearization issue. Pyongyang proposed to suspend nuclear tests in return for the halt of joint annual war games between Seoul and Washington in 2015.