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North delays reply to south proposal

Posted September. 07, 2000 13:46,   


North Korean authorities are not responding to South Korea`s proposal to hold a working-level committee meeting for Red Cross talks and construction of the Seoul-Shineuiju railway.

The government proposed to hold the Red Cross talks on September 5 and a working-level meeting for construction of the railway on September 7 at the Peace House in Panmunjom. However, there is no response from the North.

Initially, Seoul proposed the Red Cross talks to be held on August 26 , but the North didn`t even mention a postponement of the meeting. Through telephone conversation, North Korean officials in Panmunjom repeated that there was no direction from their government.

As for the delay in Pyongyang`s response, Seoul government officials said that it will take time for the North because there are a number of issues to be resolved at the second ministerial-level meeting, which was held August 29 through September 1.

The officials explained that Pyongyang might need time to prepare for the agenda, with details to be arranged including establishment of a meeting lounge, arrangement for additional exchange of visits among separated families and exchange of letters.

Some analysts say that the trouble associated with the visit by Kim Young-Nam, chairman of the North¡¯s Supreme People`s Assembly to the United States. North Korean authorities consider it as an obstruction by the U.S. administration, so they might not want to hold meetings in Panmunjom, which is under the control of United Nations forces.

At the same time, the situation could be affected by North Korea`s manpower shortage. Some analysts point out that Pyongyang is lacking in officials to handle South Korea policies as well as overall diplomatic policies.

In fact, officials say that Choi Seung-Chul, head of the North Korea Red Cross, worked all day long during the recent ministerial-level meeting in Pyongyang. Experts on North Korean affairs say that these officials must be exhausted, as they also had to participate in the welcoming ceremonies for the non-converted prisoners who were recently released by South Korea and sent to the North.