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Word of North-South Summit Talks Rages On

Posted July. 06, 2004 22:13,   


As word has begun to circulate on North Korea’s chairman of the National Defense Committee, Kim Jong-il, reciprocating a visit to Seoul, the controversy is on the rise regarding a second North-South summit.

At the first general meeting of the Committee on Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade at the National Assembly, Rep. Kim Moon-soo asked Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, “Is a summit between President Roh and Chairman Kim imminent?”

“To make a turning point for the North Korean nuclear issue and for the settlement of peace on the Korean peninsula, a return visit by Chairman Kim is possible,” said Rep. Kim Won-woong of the Uri Party. “In this respect, the government needs to plan [for it] aggressively.”

“Press reports stating that the summit is imminent are groundless,” said Minister Chung, while reiterating a bedrock position. “Since another summit was agreed on during the June 15, 2001 summit, the time will be eventually ripe for it.”

He added, “For peace and stability on the peninsula, we will carefully review the situation and will be on full alert in order not to miss an opportunity.” Minister Chung said, “We will discuss with the opposition party sufficiently and bring thought-out plans to earn popular support [for the summit].”

Presidential spokesman Kim Jong-min said in a press briefing, “The government’s principle on the summit is that it will seek to have one after the North Korean nuclear issue is generally sorted out or when the summit can make meaningful and important progress for the issue.”

However, two rumors have been circulating in Seoul’s diplomats’ circles: one about Kim’s visit in October to mark the pilot operations of the East Coast railway; the other about a September summit arranged by Russian President Putin in Vladivostok.

“Chairman Kim will visit the South at an opportune time,” former President Kim Dae-jung said through his secretary Kim Han-jeong, quoting a Chinese source, after visiting China on June 29-July 3.

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said at a press briefing, “It is the government’s belief that Chairman Kim should make a return visit as agreed on in the June 15 North-South communiqué.” He added, “However, it is not true that the government is contacting the North to hold another summit soon.”

Jung-Hun Kim Yong-Gwan Jung jnghn@donga.com yongari@donga.com