On June 17, major foreign news agencies sent Seoul dispatches on an unexpected meeting between National Defense Committee Chairman Kim Jong Il and Minister of Unification Chung Dong-young.
Foreign news outlets reported that the meeting between North Korean leader Kim, who is known for his rare appearances in public, and the South Korean senior official is very unusual and that the world is keeping close eyes on whether the talk will lead to the resumption of the six-way talks for the resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis.
The Associated Press observed that the meeting has heightened hopes for the easing of tensions on the Korean peninsula while reporting on the luncheon after the talk.
Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) reported that Chairman Kim might have mentioned the state of tension surrounding North Koreas nuclear programs. Reuters offered its analysis that though it is hard to say whether Chairman Kim sent a clear message or signal (to South Korea) during the conversation, the timing is a sign.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on South Korean officials hope that the meeting will provide an opportunity for the international community to convey its concerns over the North Korean nuclear standoff. Japanese news agencies covered the talk between Chairman Kim and Minister Chung as a major news item in their evening editions and devoted time to the influence the meeting will have on the six-party talks and on the U.S.-North Korea relations.
The Mainichi Shimbun analyzed, It appears that North Korea intends to alienate South Korea from the U.S. when the relations between the two are already not that solid. To this end, North Korea is trying as hard as it can to win over South Korea and take advantage of the friendly atmosphere of the fifth anniversary of the inter-Korean summit.
The paper also said, Chairman Kim is nervous as some in the U.S. talk about hawkish options such as economic sanctions on North Korea and the referral of the nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council. It is possible for North Korea to keep the U.S. in check by exploiting inter-Korean cooperation.