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South and North Korea to Hold Prime Ministerial Meeting on Wednesday

South and North Korea to Hold Prime Ministerial Meeting on Wednesday

Posted November. 14, 2007 08:15,   


South and North Korea have agreed to hold a three-day inter-Korea prime ministerial meeting in Seoul on November 14 to discuss ways to implement the “2007 Inter-Korea Peace Agreement.” The meeting is the first to be held in more than 15 years since the 8th Inter-Korean high ranking official summit in Pyongyang in September 1992.

Prime Minister Han Deok-su and Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung will lead the South Korean delegation and their respective North Korean counterparts, Premier Kim Yong Il and Senior Cabinet Councilor Gwon Ho Ung, will lead the North.

Key Issues in Establishing the Common Fishery Zone-

The South Korean government focuses on the establishment of the West Sea Special Zone for Peace and Cooperation comprising five projects: creating the fishery zone; developing Haeju port; developing the Haeju special economic zone; allowing private ships to pass via a direct sea lane; and South-North joint development of the Han River’s estuary. Among them the creation of the fishery zone is a key issue.

The South Korean government is expected to propose to establish “Joint Committee for the West Sea Special Zone for Peace and Cooperation (provisional)” chaired by ministerial-level officials to lead the implementation of the projects.

After reaching broad principles for establishing a fishery zone during the prime ministerial meeting, South and North Korea are expected to delegate such matters like deciding the boundaries of the fishery zone, which requires a security guarantee, to an Inter-Korean defense ministerial meeting due to be held from November 27-29.

A high-ranking government official said on November 13, “The principles of equal size and distance for the common fishery zone require further discussion.” However, he clarified, “The common fishery zone will not nullify the Northern Limit Line (NLL).”

On October 17, Unification Minister Lee also said during the National Assembly’s audit and inspection of state affairs, “It is not appropriate to employ the principle of equal size and distance based on reciprocity.”

Ways to Foster the Gaesong Industrial Complex Development Project-

Another important agenda is to settle the issue of the so-called three freedoms to foster the inter-Korean economic complex. The “three freedoms” includes free passage, communication, and customs clearance for the businesses residing in the complex.

Many businesses already operating in the complex have been complaining that the lack of these freedoms have caused them inconveniences while a substantial number of companies yet to commit to the complex see obtaining a guarantee for the three freedoms as an important prerequisite before investing.

As the construction of the Geumgang Mountain Family Reunion Hall is due to be completed in March 2008, the meeting will also address some issues related to regular family reunions. The South is expected to make a proposal to hold a monthly reunion in addition to a weekly follow-up meeting for those who have already met their family members.

Apart from Prime Minister Han and Unification Minister Lee, vice ministers including Lim Yeong-rok (Finance), Oh Yeong-ho (Industry), Lee Chun-hee (Construction), Park Yang-woo (Culture), and Seo Hoon (NIS) will be on the South Korean delegation.

The North Korean delegation led by Premier Kim and Senior Cabinet Councilor Gwon also includes senior member of North Korean Cabinet Secretariat Baek Ryong Chon, Vice Minister of the Homeland and Environment Ministry Park Ho Yong, Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Land and Marin Transport Cha Son Mo, Minister of Health Park Jong Song and Director of the Railway Ministry Park Jong Min. Officials from the Defense Ministry are excluded.

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