Seoul wants answers on leaks over secret contact

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Seoul wants answers on leaks over secret contact

Wi Sung-lac, Seoul’s top envoy on North Korean affairs, said yesterday that he would ask China about the motives behind North Korea’s recent exposure of secret inter-Korean contact.

Wi yesterday embarked on a twoday visit to China aimed at consulting the North’s ally about issues on the Korean Peninsula amid signs of failing chances of holding inter-Korean talks and increasing economic cooperation between China and North Korea, the two cases suspected by some to be interconnected.

Wi today is scheduled to meet Wu Dawei, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs. “During the visit to China, I will figure out why North Korea made such a stance public and how to cope with the current situation,” Wi told Yonhap News Agency before departing for China.

On June 1, the North claimed that the Lee Myung-bak administration begged for a series of summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il through behind-the-scenes contact last month, accusing it of attempting to buy the summits.

In response, Seoul’s Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said contact was made with the North last month, but it was not to beg for summits. Instead it was to draw an apology from the North for its two provocations last year, he said.

The two attacks, blamed on the North, killed 48 South Korean soldiers and two civilians.

The North’s embarrassing revelation, which some see as a breach of diplomatic protocol, could reflect its losing interests in normalizing the relationship with the South as its cooperation with China grows, observers say. And Hwanggumpyong, a joint industrial complex in the border region between North Korea and China, had a ground-breaking ceremony yesterday, according to diplomatic sources.

“The North may have behaved that way based on confidence backed by economic assistance and a security assurance it possibly got from China during the North-China summit,” said Yang Moo-jin, a North Korea studies professor at Kyungnam University, referring to a summit between Kim Jong-il and Chinese leader Hu Jintao in China last month.

The summit was followed by the North saying it would not deal with the Lee administration. Wi said that despite some setbacks, there is still room for diplomacy over dialogue on the Korean Peninsula and that he will talk with China over how to proceed with a three-stage approach to resume the six-party talks.

The multistep approach, which would start with inter-Korean talks, and then Pyongyang-Washington talks, was proposed by China in April. Wi’s trip comes as “shuffle diplomacy” between the six-party members on the Korean issues is resuming. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell will visit Seoul tomorrow.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]
위성락 “中과 ‘3단계 대화 접근법’ 논의”
오늘 오후 방중..'北 '입장표명' 배경 파악'
한국 측 북핵 6자회담 수석대표인 위성락 외교통상부 한반도평화교섭본부장은 8일 "중국과 남북대화, 미북대화, 6자회담으로 가는 '3단계 접근법'을 어떻게 운용할지 논의할 것"이라고 밝혔다.

위 본부장은 1박2일간의 중국 방문을 앞두고 연합뉴스와 한 전화통화에서 "우리는 지난해부터 '3단계 접근법'을 제안해 관련국들의 동의를 얻어 추진해왔다. 남북대화 채널부터 살리는 노력을 기울이겠다"며 이같이 말했다.

그는 이날 오후 1시20분께 인천공항을 통해 중국으로 출국한 뒤 9일 중국 측 6자회담 수석대표인 우다웨이(武大偉) 한반도사무 특별대표와 회담할 예정이다.

위 본부장은 북한이 지난 1일 남북 정상회담 비밀접촉을 공개한 뒤 강경한 태도를 보이는 것과 관련해 "이번 방중에서 북한이 그런 입장을 표명한 배경을 알아보고 그것에 기초해 어떻게 대처하는 것이 좋을지 전방위적으로 논의해야 한다"고 말했다.


또 한반도의 대화 국면이 물 건너간 것이 아니냐는 전망이 제기되는 데 대해 "현재 상황이 좋지 않지만 좋지 않은 상황에서도 외교가 작동할 영역은 있다"고 강조했다.

위 본부장은 방중 기간 커트 캠벨 미 국무부 동아태 차관보와 중국 당국자간 협의 결과를 청취하고 북한 우라늄농축프로그램(UEP) 대응에 관한 의견도 교환할 것으로 알려졌다.

위 본부장은 9일 밤 귀국할 예정이다. 그는 10일에는 서울에서 캠벨 차관보와 러시아 측 6자회담 차석대표인 그리고리 로그비노프 북핵담당대사를 잇따라 만날 계획이다.

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