중앙데일리

No agenda agreed yet for 2-Korea meeting

Aug 10,2007
Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung presides over the first meeting at the Office of the South-North Dialogue in Seoul to prepare for the inter-Korean summit meeting slated for Aug. 28 to 30 in Pyongyang. By Park Jong-keun
As South and North Korea scheduled working-level talks to prepare for the inter-Korean summit, attention focused on the agenda to be discussed between President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-il. Experts and Roh aides said more economic projects in the North will likely be agreed on at the summit, while Seoul wants to include other thorny issues, such as a plan to rid Pyongyang of its nuclear arms program.
Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said yesterday that Seoul has proposed to Pyongyang that a preparation meeting be held at Kaesong on Monday. “The two Koreas will discuss details about the South Korean delegation and other matters,” Kim Nam-sik, a spokesman for the Unification Ministry, said.
It is unclear if the two sides will be able to agree on the subjects to be addressed by Roh and Kim during working-level talks. “We want to discuss the summit agenda at the preparatory talks, but that is not definitive,” Kim Nam-sik said.
For the first summit, in 2000, five vice-minister-level meetings were held in advance, but no agreement was reached on an agenda. Lim Dong-won, then National Intelligence Service chief, has said he visited the North twice in late May and early June 2000 to discuss the agenda before the June 13 to 15 summit.
Lee also said that Seoul will ask the North to allow Roh to travel to Pyongyang overland, but he refused to say whether the president prefers to go by rail or road. The summit will be held Aug. 28 to 30.
Lee Hae-chan, a former prime minister and a close aide to Roh, said yesterday, “What Roh wants are projects that can start before his administration ends.” Lee had visited the North secretly in March for talks on a summit.
The former prime minister said Roh had asked him to provide possible topics for a summit in late June, and he provided a series of recommendations.
Among the points he suggested are holding regular inter-Korean summits, reducing ground troops, opening liaison offices, peacefully using the Demilitarized Zone and issues associated with separated families.
He also said that expanding the number of economic projects, similar to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, was one of his suggestions.
“I had many discussions with Roh about the summit when I was prime minister, and Roh’s ambitions are grand.” Lee added, “He probably is thinking about coming up with an irreversible agreement.”
Lee said large-scale economic cooperation could be agreed at the summit. “It is possible that industrial complexes similar to Kaesong will be built in Nampo, Wonsan, Shinuiju and Rajin,” Lee said. “The North also wants to expand tourism programs.”
He also said the two Koreas could greatly benefit from the inter-Korean railroad project because Japan’s exports to Europe and China could use the new route. “The South’s construction and civil engineering industries will also see more opportunities in the North for building infrastructure,” he said.
Critics are concerned that Roh will make promises that impose an unwanted burden on the next administration. “Roh probably had to promise a lot because the summit is taking place at the end of his term,” Grand National Representative Chung Hyung-keun said. “Roh will shine from this, but it will put shackles on the next president.”
According to the Unification Ministry, Seoul maintains a list of pending economic projects that it wants to carry out in the North, including repairing the 170-kilometer highway between Pyongyang and Kaesong, improving facilities at Nampo Harbor and sending 2 million kilowatts of electricity to the North. The South is also sending fuel aid and rice to the North.
Seoul also wants to address issues related to the nuclear crisis, but Pyongyang has said it wants to discuss the matter directly with Washington.
“The 2000 summit was symbolic as it was the first meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas,” a senior official of the Roh administration said. “But this time, our dilemma is to reach a substantial and fruitful outcome.”


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Writer / Kim Sung-tak JoongAng Ilbo [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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