SKorean president says Seoul open to NKorea talks

February 21, 2012 - 11:55 PM
South Korea Koreas Tension

People watch a live TV reporting about South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's speech, marking the fourth anniversary of his inauguration, at Seoul train station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's president says Seoul is open to talking with an "open heart" if North Korea shows a willingness to improve ties.

Lee Myung-bak's comments Wednesday at a news conference come during a tense time for the rival Koreas.

Envoys from North Korea and the United States plan nuclear talks Thursday in Beijing. But Pyongyang has spurned Seoul's offers to talk since the death in December of longtime leader Kim Jong Il.

Lee says that North Korea under new leader Kim Jong Un is getting a chance "to change for a better future."

He says Seoul will be patient about inter-Korean ties.

He says that if North Korean is open to talking "with a sincere attitude," Seoul "will welcome it and talk with an open heart."