중앙데일리

Secrecy surrounds possible talks on inter-Korean summit

Oct 23,2009
PHNOM PENH - The two Koreas have held a working-level meeting in Singapore to discuss the possibility of a summit between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, KBS reported yesterday.

Following the report, aired on the 9 p.m. prime time news, a senior Blue House official, who was accompanying Lee on his state visit to Cambodia, said yesterday that he couldn’t confirm the report. “I don’t know anything about it. I cannot verify the report right now,” he said.

Kim Tae-hyo, a Blue House official in charge of North Korean affairs, was also unable to verify the story yesterday.

North Korea initiated the request to sit down for talks about a possible inter-Korean summit, KBS reported, quoting a senior South Korean official.

Kim Yang-gon, director of the unification front department in the North’s Worker’s Party who is in charge of the party’s policy on South Korea, traveled to Singapore. Won Dong-hyon, a senior official of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, accompanied Kim, KBS reported.

According to KBS, a senior official of the Unification Ministry met with North Korean officials. The two Koreas, however, could not agree on a meeting because Seoul made clear that no summit can take place without Pyongyang giving up its nuclear weapons program, the source said.

Seoul also made it clear that Kim Jong-il must travel to the South this time, KBS said.

Citing the North Korean leader’s state of health, Pyongyang officials were unable to agree to this stipulation, KBS said.

Yesterday’s report is the second news story in a week in the South Korean media concerning inter-Korean contacts about a possible summit.

MBC reported earlier this week that Kim Yang-gon met with Lee Sang-deuk, President Lee’s elder brother, in a secret meeting to discuss a summit.

Two South Korean presidents have met previously with the North’s leader in Pyongyang. Both summits, which took place in 2000 and 2007, were arranged in secret.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]




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