Tuesday, March 12, 2019

S.Korea to seek talks with DPRK to facilitate DPRK-U.S. dialogue

Editor: Shi Yinglun, Xinhua

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SEOUL, March 12 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's unification ministry in charge of inter-Korean relations said Tuesday that it will seek talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to facilitate dialogue between the DPRK and the United States.

The ministry said in its 2019 work plan, submitted to the presidential Blue House, that it will push for inter-Korean talks, through which Seoul can help facilitate the dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

It noted that South Korea will intensify the virtuous cycle of improved inter-Korean relations leading to progress in the Korean Peninsula's denuclearization.

The work plan came as the second DPRK-U.S. summit in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi ended without agreement.

Following the Hanoi summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the continued talks between the DPRK and the United States would be the most important, indicating his willingness to find a compromise between Pyongyang and Washington.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said he will prepare for consultations with the United States to resume the two major inter-Korean cooperation projects -- the jointly run industrial zone in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong and the South Koreans' tour to the DPRK's Mount Kumgang resort that have been suspended since 2016 and 2008 each.

The ministry said in the work plan that South Korea will address key issues, including improved inter-Korean relations and the peninsula's denuclearization, through close communication between the leaders of the two Koreas.

It will also seek various inter-Korean talks, including higher-level and working-level dialogues and talks in the inter-Korean liaison office, which opened in September last year in Kaesong for the round-the-clock communication.

To build a joint community of the two Koreas, South Korea planned to push for various cooperation projects, such as the connection of railways and roads across the border, the joint use of the Han River estuary, the linking of air routes, forestry cooperation and the peaceful use of the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

South Korea and the DPRK held a groundbreaking ceremony in December last year to connect railways and roads along the eastern and western Korean Peninsula, but construction works are yet to be launched due to international sanctions against Pyongyang.

To brace for the resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the Mount Kumgang tour, South Korea planned to make preparations within the framework of sanctions against the DPRK.

South Korea will continue to promote social, cultural and sports exchanges with the DPRK this year, including a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics.

As part of efforts to resolve humanitarian issues, South Korea will pursue more reunions of Korean families, separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, by restoring the reunion center in Mount Kumgang, holding regular and video reunions, and exchanging video messages.

The Korean families have been banned from contacting and meeting each other since the Korean War ended with armistice, not a peace treaty. The peninsula remains in a technical state of war with the armistice.

To win international support for peace and prosperity on the peninsula, South Korea will step up public diplomacy [JB emphasis] for peace, the unification ministry said.

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