News ID: 274280
Published: 0240 GMT September 16, 2020

South Korea seeks to warm chilled North ties

South Korea seeks to warm chilled North ties
South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young walks with military officers during a visit to the Demilitarized Zone on Sept. 16, 2020.

South Korea's Unification Ministry sought to reopen dialogue with North Korea Wednesday, with relations in the deep freeze just days before the second anniversary of a wide-ranging cooperation agreement.

Very few of the pledges signed by the North's leader Kim Jong-un and the South's President Moon Jae-in at their 2018 Pyongyang summit – among them joint sports teams and an Olympic bid, work toward transport links, and a visit by Kim to Seoul – have come to pass, AFP reported.

Instead relations have been at a standstill since the collapse of a Hanoi summit between the North and the US last year, and this June Pyongyang blew up a North-South liaison office on its side of the border.

But South Korea's Unification Minister Lee In-young said, "I hope that communication channels, including the inter-Korean liaison office, can be restored and we can resume open-minded dialogue at an early date."

Lee spoke in front of a pine tree which Moon and Kim planted together in Panmunjom, the truce village in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, during their first summit two years ago.

Lee, a political heavyweight, described the demolition of the liaison office as a "regrettable affair", but did not directly criticize Pyongyang.

"I believe the North has willingness to comply with the (2018) agreement in its own way," he said.

With less than two years of his single presidential term remaining, time is running out for the South's Moon – who has long championed engagement with Pyongyang – to reach a settlement with the North.

But Pyongyang has repeatedly said it has no interest in talking to Seoul since the breakdown of the Hanoi summit over sanctions relief and what the nuclear-armed North would be willing to give up in return.

Regardless, Moon has called for another meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump before the US presidential election in November – even though that process is currently deadlocked.


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