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South voices regret over delay in inter-Korean ministerial talks

South voices regret over delay in inter-Korean ministerial talks

Posted March. 13, 2001 18:20,   


A government official said Tuesday that the fifth inter-Korean ministerial talks, which were scheduled to start in Seoul Tuesday, were postponed at the North`s request. ``North Korean chief delegate Jon Kum-Jin notified Unification minister Park Jae-Kyu of the delay in a telephone message, saying the delegation could not attend the talks due to unforeseen circumstances,`` he said.

The reasons for and the duration of the postponement have not yet been explained so far, but the official said Seoul would seek to hold the talks as soon as possible. Upon receiving the North Korean message, Park immediately responded with strong regrets at the delay and said the talks should begin at the earliest possible date. Some analysts voiced concerns that North Korea may have delayed the meeting as a protest over the U.S. administration`s hawkish stance on the North. In his recent summit with President Kim Dae-Jung, U.S. President George W. Bush said he was skeptical about the North`s intentions.

Another official said of the North`s sudden decision to request a delay, ``Since we don`t really know the reason, we can only guess that the postponement arose due internal circumstances within the North.``

The South Korean government convened an emergency ministerial meeting to discern the reason for the delay and discuss what further steps would be taken to reschedule the talks.