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`NK Asked for Summit Before Attacking Cheonan`

Posted August. 02, 2010 11:10,   


North Korea is known to have asked South Korea late last year to hold a third inter-Korean summit and provide fertilizer aid, sources said Sunday.

The North delivered three requests to the South through a senior official of the South Korean ruling Grand National Party in December last year. Seoul, however, failed to give a clear answer to the requests for several months.

Pyongyang then launched armed provocations, including the attack on the naval warship Cheonan March 26.

The sources said the North contacted a senior member of the Grand National Party late last year to propose an inter-Korean summit. This came after a secret meeting on the summit between the South Korean Unification Ministry and the united front department of the ruling North Korean Workers’ Party collapsed in November last year.

Pyongyang reportedly told the Grand National Party figure, “Let’s continue the talks we had with (then South Korean) Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee (now presidential chief of staff) and exclude the Unification Ministry led by Minister Hyun In-taek.”

The united front department`s director Kim Yang Gun and deputy directors Won Tong Yon and Ri Jong Hyok reportedly led the negotiations with the Grand National Party member.

The North’s requests were for the South to fulfill promises -- an inter-Korean summit and economic assistance in return for the summit -- made by Yim in his capacity as special presidential envoy in October last year; the establishment of an unofficial channel different from official lines used by South Korea’s Unification Ministry and the National Intelligence Service; and 300,000 tons of fertilizer as a sign of the South’s commitment to continuous inter-Korean dialogue.

The Grand National Party figure conveyed the requests to the presidential office in Seoul, and officials in charge of diplomacy and national security reportedly held intense debates over the requests.

Because of the intra-government dispute, Seoul failed to give an answer to the ruling party member. He reportedly promised the North an answer by late March or early April this year.

Despite this, the North attacked the Cheonan March 26 though days remained before the promised date.

Against this backdrop, some in the South say the North might have attacked the Cheonan believing that negotiations on the inter-Korean summit had broken down.

Officials at the united front department of the Workers` Party who contacted the Grand National Party member were reportedly embarrassed by the Cheonan sinking, however. This raises speculation that either North Korean leader Kim Jong Il mobilized the North’s military without notifying the department or the North’s military independently launched the attack.