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Seoul proposes to Pyongyang ‘to hold authorities’ meeting next month’

Seoul proposes to Pyongyang ‘to hold authorities’ meeting next month’

Posted December. 30, 2014 07:03,   


The South Korean government made a surprise proposal to North Korea on Monday that they hold a meeting between authorities in January next year. President Park Geun-hye is believed to have switched the previous channel of a vice minister-level meeting to that of a minister-level meeting that is led by the presidential preparatory committee for national unification.

Unification Minister Ryu Gil-jae, vice chair for the government on the committee, and Chung Jong-wook, vice chair for the private sector on the committee, held a press conference at the government complex in Seoul on the day, and proposed, “In order to overcome an era of national division and move towards an era of national unification on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation and the 70th anniversary of national division, South and North Korean should meet each other and discuss ways to create peaceful unification.”

“As for high-level inter-Korean contacts, high-level contacts became difficult because North Korea demanded as a precondition a halt to South Koreans’ sending of anti-North Korean leaflets to the North, which the South Korean government cannot afford to accept,” a South Korean government source said. “President Park has decided to spearhead the framework of inter-Korean dialogue through the preparatory committee for national unification that she herself led to establish.” A source at the committee stressed, “The chairperson of the committee is President Park Geun-hye and the latest offer directly carries President Park’s intention.”

Minister Ryu emphasized on the day, “Notably, we hope to see pain and agonies among separated families (in the two Koreas) eased before next year’s seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day, which falls in February).” He proposed as venue for inter-Korean talks Seoul, Pyongyang or a third place that the two Koreas agree upon.

On the agendas of the inter-Korean dialogue, Minister Ryu said, “We can discuss all diverse issues that the two Koreas have common interest.” A source in the Seoul government said, “Pending inter-Korean issues including fundamental resolution of the separated family issue, lifting of South Korea’s May 24 (2010) sanctions against Pyongyang, and resumption of South Koreans’ tours to Mount Kumkang in the North may be on the table.” Also included in the agendas are issues that the preparatory committee for national unification proposed on the day as projects for next year: joint project to preserve languages and national culture and heritage of the two Koreas, inter-Korean soccer championship, a peace, culture and arts festival, and a world peace conference marking the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation, the construction of a world eco peace park in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and a joint survey of the DMZ ecosystem by international organizations and the two Koreas.

The Seoul government sent a memorandum proposing talks, at which Minister Ryu will serve as the chief delegate, to Kim Yang Gon, the North Korean Workers’ Party secretary for inter-Korean affairs and Director of the United Front Department. The government has thus switched the previous dialogue channel between the presidential office in the South and the National Defense Commission in the North to a ‘unification-unification line’ of dialogue between Minister Ryu and Kim Yang Gon.