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No Date for Inter-Korean Military Talks

Posted December. 17, 2005 10:36,   


The 17th round of inter-Korean ministerial meetings came to an end Friday without setting a date for the next inter-Korean high-level military meeting.

The two Koreas announced in their joint press statement adopted at a wrap-up meeting which was held at Lotte Hotel in Seoguipo, Jeju on Friday afternoon that the two sides agreed to hold the next round of the high-level military meeting at the earliest possible date next year.

The South delegation strived to confirm the exact date of the meeting immediately after the ministerial talks kicked off on December 13, while the North delegation only kept saying, “Consultation with military authority is required.”

It was also confirmed that the North’s joint press statement included a clause that both parties reached an agreement to propose the next generals’ meeting to each military authority, which was not contained in the South’s joint press statement.

In addition, the South delegation pledged strong support for strengthened cooperation between the World Taekwondo Federation (South) and the International Taekwondo Federation (North) towards the goal of balanced development of Taekwondo in both Koreas. This was included in the both Koreas’ joint press statements.

The two Koreas also agreed to hold inter-Korean Red Cross talks in February 2006, a reunion of separated families via video link at the end of February, and a reunion of separated families in Mt. Geumgang within the following month next year.

Meanwhile, the North persistently demanded that the South lift restrictions on tour destinations in the North until the end of the meeting, a request which was turned down by the South.

A dozen of North Korean officials including Choi Young Gun, the Vice Minister of Construction and Building-Materials Industries, pressured the South, saying, “If the South doesn’t lift restrictions on tour destinations, we will head back to the North without agreement.” They even brought their luggage to the hotel lobby at 10:30 a.m. on Friday when the meeting was still underway.

It seemed that they wanted to send a message that the South Korean government officials and civilians visiting Pyongyang should pay a visit to the North’s national cemetery, Aeguk Yeolsaneung, in return for the North Korean officials’ visit to the national cemetery in Dongjak-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul during the Grand National Festival on August 15 of this year.

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com