May 13, 2011 09:14
President Lee Myung-bak's offer to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to the Nuclear Security Summit next March in Seoul if he proves he is willing to denuclearize still stands, a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said Thursday. North Korea had earlier dismissed the offer.
"The invitation is still valid. There'll be a chance for working-level officials to meet their North Korean counterparts to discuss this in the future," the official said.
Lee made the offer in Berlin on Monday. But the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland shrugged off the invitation in a statement Wednesday, saying it was "a ridiculous attempt to disarm and invade the North along with the U.S."
Lee, who has arrived in Paris on the last leg of his Europe trip, also said Thursday he did not expect North Korea to respond quickly to his invitation and even a negative response does not necessarily mean a rejection.
"Perhaps the North isn't fully aware of the details of our proposal," added the official, who is accompanying Lee on the trip. "It's quite a new proposal from our side and there's still time until the summit. I think we'll have a chance to have talks with the North about this."
Asked if Seoul has any plan to have a meeting with the North to discuss this, the official said, "There'll be a chance of a working-level meeting between the two sides. Government agencies will gather views later as to when and how we should discuss this with the North." "President Lee's latest proposal isn't a one-off offer," another official said.
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