April 13, 2015 12:39
President Park Geun-hye has decided to stay away from Russia's World War II victory celebrations in Moscow next month, ending months of weighing the pros and cons.
Government sources on Friday said Park's decision comes after a recent meeting of Cheong Wa Dae officials on the matter.
Most western leaders including key South Korean allies are staying away due to Russia's annexation of the Crime, which seems to have outweighed hopes that Park might be able to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on the sidelines.
A government source said, "It's not even certain whether Kim Jong-un will really attend, even though he's accepted the invitation." Several leaders who also accepted the invite have said they would not shake the North Korean dictator’s hand if he turns up.
But Saenuri Party lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun, a key confidante of Park's, will attend on Seoul's behalf. His dispatch has raised speculation that he could meet senior North Korean officials in Moscow.
Yoon is on record as saying secret meetings between the two Koreas are necessary for any "breakthrough" in relations, and recently told the Chosun Ilbo that "forward-looking" measures are necessary in dealing with North Korea and vowed to do everything in his power to facilitate some kind of dialogue.
Officially the Park administration does not favor behind-the-scenes dealings with Pyongyang and has mostly discontinued them.
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