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`N. Korea Asked for Inter-Korean Summit Last Month`

Posted August. 19, 2010 00:54,   


North Korea is known to have asked South Korea to hold a high-level summit last month despite the sinking of the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan March 26.

In December last year, Pyongyang delivered a message to continue talks with Seoul through a senior member of the South’s ruling Grand National Party after holding dialogue with the South Korean Unification Ministry in November that year. Seoul, however, ignored or rejected the message.

A high-ranking official in Seoul said Tuesday, “North Korea sent us a request to hold an inter-Korean summit even after it sank the Cheonan. This is its typical carrot-and-stick strategy. North Korea superficially proclaims military retaliation against sanctions imposed on it while suggesting an inter-Korean summit under the table.”

On why Pyongyang made the suggestion again, the official said, “Because of economic sanctions (due to its second nuclear test last year and the Cheonan sinking this year) imposed on it, the North saw its revenue drop at least one billion dollars in one year, making it feeling antsy. It is hoping that economic assistance can be resumed through inter-Korean talks.”

Another government source in Seoul said, “After Yim Tae-hee, who controlled the unofficial dialogue channel with North Korea last year, was named presidential chief of staff July 9, Pyongyang asked Seoul to send someone to Chanamsan Hotel in Kaesong."

"This is because it wanted to know if the promise Yim made in Singapore (of hosting an inter-Korean summit and giving economic assistance to the North) in October last year would be kept.”

The source said Seoul sent a representative to Kaesong to say “the promise cannot be kept and things have changed.”

Still another South Korean government source said, “We know North Korea has sent messages asking to hold an inter-Korean summit through various channels, but whether the channels are official or unofficial remain uncertain.”

President Lee Myung-bak reportedly told a meeting of scholars shortly after the Cheonan sinking, “North Korea is expecting a summit but many under (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Il are against it.”

Seoul, however, has officially denied receiving such requests. A source from the Office of the Senior Secretary to the President for Foreign Affairs and National Security said, “We never received a message received from North Korea and no dialogue is being held with the North on the government level. The dialogue channel with the North is now being cut.”

Another government source said, “It’s news to me that a man was sent to Chanamsan Hotel.”