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`NK leader proposed inter-Korean summit in `09 via China PM`

`NK leader proposed inter-Korean summit in `09 via China PM`

Posted February. 18, 2013 04:51,   


Outgoing President Lee Myung-bak and a key aide say the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2009 proposed a third inter-Korean summit to South Korea via Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

In an exclusive interview with The Dong-A Ilbo Thursday, President Lee said, “Former chairman of (North Korea’s) National Defense Commission Kim officially sent a message that he wished to meet with President Lee. Kim said, ‘I want to meet with him without any condition’ rather than asking for rice and barley.”

“The previous government was bent on going to the North and meeting Kim, but I judged that it was important to normalize inter-Korean relations for both sides to stand on equal footing. This had an effect,” the president said. “I replied that if it helps maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and (North Korea’s) nuclear issue, I had the intent to meet him.” President Lee didn`t mention the time the late North Korean leader made the proposal, but a key aide told a Dong-A reporter Sunday that it came in 2009.

“Via Chinese Premier Wen, I replied to Kim that it was about time that he visited South Korea once and that it was good to meet in Jeju, Incheon, Paju, Munsan, or (the truce village of) Panmunjeom,” the president said. “Premier Wen said that since the other side (Kim) first offered to meet, it would be nice not to be constrained by venue. I told him that I didn`t think that (Kim’s visit to South Korea) was the only way to hold the summit.”

The October 2009 contact in Singapore between then South Korean Labor Minister Lim Tae-hee and Kim Yang Gon, director of the united front department of the North`s ruling Workers` Party, was confirmed to have been made after President Lee and Kim Jong Il indirectly exchanged messages through Wen. President Lee said, “I understand that (after Kim first offered) to meet me, his aides such as Kim Yang Gon contacted (Lim) for working-level talks.”

On why the summit failed to take place, President Lee said, “Kim Jong Il’s aides (including Kim Yang Gon) would have thought, ‘If the South Korean president wanted to (visit North Korea), there should naturally be some compensation.’ I couldn`t go beyond the boundary of method that we had resorted to.” This means that Pyongyang wanted compensation for a summit, but Seoul rejected the proposal.