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Signs of Holding 3rd Inter-Korean Summit Appear

Posted January. 04, 2010 08:07,   


Signs are appearing early in the New Year that another inter-Korean summit is in the works as the Lee Myung-bak administration of South Korea enters its third year.

The first sign is a joint editorial issued by New Year’s Day, North Korea’s official media. “We have a strong desire to improve inter-Korean ties. The South Korean authority must come forward to improve the relations,” it said, expressing Pyongyang’s intent to improve bilateral relations.

The Choson Sinbo, the official daily of the pro-North Korea General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said Saturday, “The editorial is a testament to Pyongyang’s will to seek a dramatic event likely to take place this year,” citing the two previous inter-Korean summits.

The newspaper did not directly mention an inter-Korean summit, but its referral to a “dramatic event” by quoting the North’s editorial could indicate that Pyongyang seeks a third summit with Seoul.

“The North Korean public understands how the two previous inter-Korean summits were convened in the past thanks to courageous decisions by the Dear Leader (Kim Jong Il),” the daily said.

Many experts on North Korea say Pyongyang will take a very positive stance toward an inter-Korean summit this year considering the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula. More than anything, the joint policy of South Korea and the U.S. of using a “two-track approach” of dialogue and sanctions on North Korea has begun to see progress.

Kim Seong-han, an international relations professor at Korea University in Seoul, said, “North Korea has revealed in its New Year’s editorial that it’s in a phase where it’s starting to feel pain. Pyongyang apparently judged that unless international sanctions on North Korea are eased through dialogue, it can hardly survive and the environment for a power transition could deteriorate.”

“North Korea also cannot afford to blindly pursue bilateral talks with the U.S.”

Pyongyang is also believed to want to use an inter-Korean summit as a means to pressure Washington into improving bilateral ties.

yongari@donga.com zeitung@donga.com