Posted September. 30, 2009 07:08,
Vice Unification Minister Hong Yang-ho said yesterday that North Koreas nuclear program is not related to the resumption of the Mount Kumgang tour.
At Hanwha Resort in Sokcho, Gangwon Province, Hong told reporters covering inter-Korean family reunions, The Mount Kumgang tour is about business between the two Koreas. If the tour is linked to the nuclear issue, its like saying nothing should be allowed between the two sides.
Hong, however, said Seoul maintains its stance that Pyongyang must explain the shooting death of a South Korean tourist last year, promise that a similar incident never recur, and guarantee the safety of South Korean tourists at Mount Kumgang.
Our government has expressed its stance on the resumption of the Mount Kumgang tour through National Assembly sessions and interviews with media. Its now North Koreas turn to show a response, he said.
A Unification Ministry official said, The government still believes the North Korean nuclear issue should be handled first to improve inter-Korean relations. The Mount Kumgang tour is not totally unrelated to the nuclear issue but was suspended because of the killing, not the nuclear issue. Accordingly, the tour could be resumed even if the nuclear issue is not resolved.
The North also indirectly asked the South to provide food aid over the reunion period. On this, Hong said, We have no plan to provide rice or fertilizer as part of the family reunions. We used to tacitly give fertilizer to the North but have never provided rice.