Former summit envoy expands on current talks

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Former summit envoy expands on current talks

A senior lawmaker who arranged the 2000 inter-Korean summit weighed in on the ongoing high-level talks between both Koreas, prompted after Pyongyang fired artillery rounds toward the South.

Rep. Park Jie-won, a member of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), noted Monday that talks with North Korean negotiators typically took a long time because they were required to report to the top brass to get feedback.

The opposition lawmaker acted as a special envoy under the Kim Dae-jung administration and arranged the meeting on June 15, 2000, between the South Korean president and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Park talked about his experiences during a meeting with NPAD leaders.

“When I held talks with the North as the special envoy in charge of arranging the summit, my counterparts spent significant time receiving orders from the top leaders in Pyongyang,” he said. “I think this [current] high-level contact is taking a long time to conclude because North Korean negotiators are spending a lot of time receiving orders from Pyongyang.”

“I believe the current talks are nearly as important as the [inter-Korean] summit,” Park continued. “It’s a good sign that the two sides are engaging in an extensive dialogue.”

He also advised Seoul to show some flexibility.

“If [South Korean officials] want the North to admit to its provocations and demand an apology, the outlook will be extremely dark,” he said. “A strategic approach for a fundamental and comprehensive resolution is necessary.”

He added that Seoul should focus on an existing strategy for deadlocked inter-Korean relations to make room for a breakthrough.

Park also criticized NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in for complaining about the administration’s reluctance to share information about the current talks and defended the government.

The opposition leader previously took issue with the fact that the government was sharing information about the talks with the United States in real time, while keeping the ruling and opposition parties in the dark.

“The government is doing that because it doesn’t want to unnecessarily provoke North Korea,” Park said.

He told reporters later in the day, “If the government actually is only communicating with the United States, like Moon said, then based on my experience, the government is doing a great job maintaining security.”

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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