February 02, 2010 09:10
Officials are saying an inter-Korean summit could take place on June 25, the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, or on Aug. 15, the anniversary of national liberation.
The speculation follows remarks by President Lee Myung-bak that a summit should take place "without preconditions."
A government source said if the summit takes place much sooner, the administration could be accused of trying to gain an advantage for ruling-party candidates in local elections scheduled for June 2, but if it is held too late, it could get in the way of preparations for the G20 summit in November.
But there is speculation it could take place as early as March or April since North Korea is apparently trying to take advantage of the summit as a stepping stone to talks with the U.S. and is likely to run into a severe food shortage soon.
There also is speculation that the U.S. may want to see progress in the North Korean nuclear issue at the inter-Korean summit, with the approach of the global nuclear security summit in April and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference in May.
But that would not allow sufficient time for preparations, and an annual South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise, which usually prompts protests from the North, comes mid-March. Also, North Korean founder Kim Il-sung's birthday is on April 15, and April 25 is the anniversary of the North Korean People's Army.
Then in May, local election campaigns will be in full swing. With only three days left before the general elections in April 2000, the Kim Dae-jung administration made the stunning announcement of the first inter-Korean summit, but that failed to have a major impact on election results. A senior government official said, "The summit is one thing and the domestic political schedule is another." But the ruling camp apparently believes it should take the effect of the summit on elections into consideration.
That leaves the period between June and August as the most suitable time. The government source said, "Pyongyang would prefer June 15, the 10th anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit, as the summit date. But we want to achieve important progress in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula on the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War."
Experts say the anniversary of the war is not an ideal date since it started with an invasion from North Korea, making Liberation Day to likelier option. But one ruling camp official said it is far too early to predict a date when it is unclear whether the summit will be held at all.
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