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South & North Fail to Agree on Joint Statement

Posted July. 11, 2003 21:36,   


In the third day of the 11th ministerial-level talks held at Seoul’s Shilla Hotel, delegates from South and North Korea failed to produce a joint agreement owing to persisting differences over North Korea’s nuclear project.

The two parties did, however, reach a general agreement on staging the eighth round of family reunions around Korea’s second biggest holiday, Chusok, at Mt. Geumgang, while convening the 6th South-North Economic Cooperation Committee meeting in conjunction with the 12th minister-level talks.

South and North Korea discussed procedural matters concerning the envisioned joint statement, though failed to reach a consensus. Accordingly, both sides were compelled to cancel a conclusion meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. today, agreeing to continue with their discussions.

Southern representative and policy director at the Ministry of Unification Shin Un-sang said at a briefing, “South Korea has tried to persuade North Korea to accept multilateral talks attended by the U.S., China and Japan. But the North has repeated its standing position.”

North Korea has been arguing that the nuclear issue should be resolved solely between the U.S. and itself, making it difficult for talks with South Korea to go forward.

Seoul has also urged Pyongyang to hold South-North defense ministerial talks, the last of which convened in September, 2000, but the North has rejected this demand, saying the minister-level talks are inappropriate for dealing with the nuclear issue.

Regarding the 8th family reunion, Shin said, “Specific details would have to be agreed upon through Red Cross channels. If an overland route to Mt. Geumgang opens before Chusok, we would be able to use that mode.”

North Korean representatives will return to their country on July 12th departing from Incheon International Airport.

Ki-Heung Han eligius@donga.com