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Setup of joint economic panel agreed; Jin thanks for food aid

Setup of joint economic panel agreed; Jin thanks for food aid

Posted September. 28, 2000 19:44,   


The chief delegates of the ongoing inter-Korean ministerial talks, Unification Minister Park Jae-Kyu of the South and Jon Kum-Jin of the North, had two rounds of informal meetings on Thursday prior to attending official talks and agreed to set up a joint committee to comprehensively deal with various pending inter-Korean issues. Accordingly, the two sides are expected to set up and activate the joint economic committee shortly in order to implement tasks in the economic sector as previously agreed. Government officials said that the two sides produced many results in their informal talks, disclosing that the two chief delegates reached a consensus on the establishment of the joint economic panel to comprehensively tackle pending matters such as the construction of a cross-border railway and a parallel highway and the Imjin River Flood Prevention Project.

Park and Jon also agreed on the need to address the unresolved issue of concluding pacts on account settlements and dispute arbitration at the earliest possible date, the officials said. At the ensuing ministerial meeting, they concurred that the inter-Korean ministerial talks should be the central consultative body overseeing all bilateral exchanges and cooperation. Minister Park, in his keynote speech at the meeting, proposed that the joint economic subcommittee be formed first among the projected four sectoral subcommittees on political, military, economic and social-cultural affairs. He expressed hope that at the next meeting the two sides would be able to reach a final resolution on the family reunion program.

Regarding social and cultural cooperation, Minister Park put forward three major proposals, namely, that the two governments cooperate for the inter-Korean exchange visits of Korean residents in foreign countries, conduct test exchange visits of professors, students and cultural personnel to expand academic and cultural exchanges and stage soccer games between Seoul and Pyongyang alternately beginning Liberation Day (Aug. 15) next year.

In response to Park's suggestions, North Korean chief delegate Jon did not present new proposals but said that South and North Korea have entered a new phase of dialogue. He cited the recent series of bilateral talks, including the current ministerial meeting, Red Cross contacts, working-level economic talks and defense ministers' talks, as well as the recent visit to Seoul by Kim Yong-Sun, the special envoy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. Specifically, Jon expressed gratitude for Seoul's commitment to food aid to the North. However, he criticized Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Lee Joung-Binn's recent speech at the U.N. General Assembly session, stating that his remark that current inter-Korean developments are due to the Seoul government's engagement policy was inappropriate.