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Ex-President to Arrange Roh-Kim Talks?

Posted February. 02, 2006 06:04,   


The South Korean government said yesterday that it delivered former President Kim Dae-jung’s intention to visit North Korea in April to Pyongyang.

“After receiving a plan to visit Pyongyang by Gyeongui Line train this April to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il from Kim at the beginning of last month, the South Korean government delivered the plan to the North,” a South Korean official said. “The South Korean government is waiting for an answer from the North Korean authorities.

“The South Korean government hopes that Kim’s visit to Pyongyang will be realized and will actively support Kim’s plan,” the official said. “The South Korean government and Kim have not yet consulted with each other on specific details including the talk agendas.”

Speculation is arising from some within the South Korean government that if Kim visits Pyongyang, it is likely he will arrange for an inter-Korean summit between President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. In an interview with the Segye Ilbo yesterday, Kim made public his plan to visit Pyongyang in April and also expressed his intention to arrange for a summit, saying, “I am not a South Korean government representative. Crucial decisions on key issues should be achieved through a summit between President Roh and North Korean leader Kim. I am just planning to do something helpful for a possible summit.”

Kim agreed to host North Korean leader Kim on a return visit to Seoul at the June 15 inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang in 2000.

The fact that key ruling party figures, including President Roh, have created the atmosphere for Kim’s visit to the North since at the end of last year also backs up this speculation. Whether visiting Pyongyang by a train will actually occur is still uncertain, however. Consultations on linking the inter-Korean Gyeongui rail line should be concluded first. A South Korean government official said, “During a working-level meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee slated for sometime in this month, this issue will be discussed.”

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com