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‘Labor Minister Held Talks on Inter-Korean Summit’

Posted December. 21, 2009 14:11,   


Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee held contacts with North Korea on the proposed inter-Korean summit early this year before the South Korean Unification Ministry, sources said Sunday.

Seoul was set to make concessions to have North Korean leader Kim Jong Il visit the South Korean capital. Instead, however, the South proposed holding the summit in the North and then have President Lee Myung-bak take South Korean prisoners of war and abductees to the South for good or a temporary visit.

The plan, however, was reportedly dropped in the final phase of negotiations due to Pyongyang’s rejection.

According to multiple sources on North Korean affairs, Kim Jong Il proposed to the South that the two Koreas hold an inter-Korean summit by the end of the year via Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the ruling North Korean Workers’ Party, and Kim Yang Gon, head of the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.

Kim Ki Nam in August led a North Korean delegation to Seoul to attend the funeral of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.

Seoul instructed Yim, who had keen interest in inter-Korean affairs since serving as chairman of the ruling Grand National Party’s policy committee, to contact Pyongyang. Yim is confirmed to have secretly met the North Korean delegation when it visited Seoul.

Yim met with Kim Yang Gon and his deputy Won Tong Yon in Singapore in mid-October to coordinate the agenda for the planned summit. The two sides reportedly narrowed differences to a significant degree over major issues, including North Korea’s nuclear program and the fates of South Korean POWs and abductees being held in the communist country.

One source said, “The North accepted the South’s offer to include the nuclear issue in the summit agenda and request visits to Seoul by South Korean POWs and abductees being held in the North.”

According to the source, North Korea asked for the resumption of South Korean tours to Mount Kumgang and Kaesong and large-scale food aid.