President Lee Myung-bak appears to have given up hope of an inter-Korean summit to salvage his government's plummeting approval rating. Lee told Le Figaro, "There is no principle that I have to meet with Kim Jong-il during my term. But as I stated many times before, I am ready for talks with him if it is necessary."
He was speaking to the French daily prior to his departure for the G20 Summit in Cannes, France on Thursday.
"An inter-Korean summit should be able to specifically contribute to bringing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. I should also be able to move forward economic cooperation between the South and the North. I have no intention at all to meet with Kim Jong-il only for political purposes," he added.
On the North Korean nuclear problem, Lee said six-party talks have so far "only helped Pyongyang gain more time." He said South Korea and the U.S. "don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past."
"There are contacts underway between North and South and with the United States. If these prove positive and we can ascertain that the North Koreans are sincere, then we can restart the six-party talks."
Lee arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Tuesday to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev before the G20 Summit.