April 26, 2018 12:49
Economic cooperation will not be on the agenda of Friday's inter-Korean summit, sparing the government's blushes over rash proposals like reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
"Economic cooperation isn't a major agenda item," a senior Unification Ministry official told reporters Tuesday. "That will be possible only if there is progress in inter-Korean relations as a result of denuclearization."
The government's hands are at any rate tied as UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea forbid practically all business cooperation.
Resuming inter-Korean projects like the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex or package tours to the Mt. Kumgang resort, which used to serve as cash cows for the regime, would violate the sanctions, which are unlikely to be eased until North Korea makes significant progress in scrapping its nuclear program.
The U.S. will also continue its maximum pressure campaign until it can see the concrete results in the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" of North Korea, according to a White House spokesperson on Monday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could still throw a curveball at the summit by bringing up the projects in a bid to soften the sanctions, where he sees Seoul as the weakest link.
The regime changed its doctrine from "parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy" to "economic growth" at the latest session of the Workers Party Central Committee on April 20.
"That's a kind of message that South Korea should play a role in building up the North Korean economy," a researcher at a government-funded think tank here said. "We need to open up the possibility but also emphasize that the top priority should be denuclearization."
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