October 23, 2009 09:43
There were secret contacts between the two Koreas in Singapore during Oct. 15-20, possibly to discuss an inter-Korean summit, South Korean officials have admitted. Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials said Kim Yang-gon, the director of North Korea's United Front Department, secretly visited China and contacted a South Korean official. The official has not been identified but is believed to be unconnected to the Unification Ministry.
Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) on Thursday said a South Korean official secretly met with Kim in Singapore and discussed the summit question. Quoting an intelligence official, KBS said Kim arrived in Beijing on Oct. 15 but went to Singapore with Won Tong-yon, a ranking member of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, and contacted a high ranking South Korean official there. The contact was initiated by the North Korean side, it added.
The South Korean official told Kim that a summit would require a fundamental change in the North Korean nuclear issue, and that no economic assistance could be promised for the summit, the broadcaster claimed. He also insisted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will have to visit Seoul this time as two previous summits took place in North Korea. The negotiations ended inconclusively as the North Koreans objected to the idea of Kim Jong-il traveling to the South for security reasons, it added.
A source in Beijing confirmed that the meeting took place. One key figure in the ruling Grand National Party said, "North Korea has long requested a meeting with a person who can speak on behalf of President Lee Myung-bak, and it is true that such a meeting was recently on the verge of happening, but since news of the meeting was made public, meetings of senior officials from both Koreas will be difficult to hold for some time."
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