South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said the country hoped that the Beijing Winter Olympics would serve as an opportunity to improve the inter-Korean ties, but now such expectation is unlikely to be met.
Foreign Minister Chung told reporters at a press briefing held at the Foreign Ministry building in Seoul on Wednesday when asked about the possibility of an inter-Korean summit at the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics in February. Under the circumstances where North Korea’s participation in the Olympics is unclear due to the spread of COVID-19 and the U.S. has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, Chung acknowledged that the Olympics will not likely to be a foothold for an end-of-war declaration. However, a high-ranking government official said Foreign Minister Chung’s remarks mean that it has become difficult to leverage the Olympics to advance the peace process, adding there could be improvement of inter-Korean relations even before the Olympics.
As for a possible boycott of the Beijing Olympics, Chung reiterated his position that Seoul is “not reviewing” a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics. When asked if President Moon is open to attending the Olympics, Chung said he has nothing to share at the moment. It is known that the majority of opinion within Cheong Wa Dae is President Moon’s participation in the Olympics will be difficult for now.
As for an end-of-war declaration, Chung said South Korea and the U.S. have effectively agreed on the draft, a step up from the previous announcement that talks with the U.S. are in final stages. He went on to say that Seoul is reviewing how to advance talks with Pyongyang over end-of-war declaration, adding he expects a concrete response from North Korea.
When it comes to the criticism that Seoul is turning a blind eye to humanitarian issues in North Korea and China, Chung said South Korea is in special relations with North Korea and China, and there are many areas to cooperate with them as the two are directly related to the country’s national security.
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