November 22, 2019 09:37
North Korea on Thursday bluntly rejected an invitation from President Moon Jae-in to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the special South Korea-ASEAN summit in Busan starting Nov. 25.
The North published the personal invitation letter from Moon and said, "It is doubtable that the meeting between the North and the South will be meaningful at this time."
The rejection came just four days before the special summit. North Korea said the South Korean government made an "earnest request" several times to send a special envoy if Kim cannot make it. The snub pours cold water on the Moon administration's efforts to revive inter-Korean relations.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency said, "There is no reason for us not to be grateful for it if the personal letter contained the sincere trust in [Kim] and invitation carrying earnest expectation. But we hope [South Korea] would understand the reason that we failed to find out the proper reason for [Kim] to visit Busan."
"It is important to choose the proper time and place, if everything is to be done well," it added.
The rejection also accused the South of trying to use North Korea for political gains. "Nothing was achieved in implementing the agreements made in Panmunjom, Pyongyang and Mt. Baekdu," it said, referring to inter-Korean agreements made to advance cross-border cooperation. It added that an inter-Korean summit "for mere form's sake would be pointless."
The North questioned what South Korea hoped to achieve by having Moon stand with Kim in front of the world's leaders, adding they would merely shake hands and take photographs in a multilateral meeting that has very little bearing on North Korea.
Cheong Wa Dae downplayed the snub by saying it merely sent the invitation in response to a letter of condolence from Kim after Moon's mother died earlier this month.
Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said the South sent the invitation on Nov. 5 and added it is "regrettable" that the leaders of the two Koreas could not use the opportunity to promote peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. "Our stance remains the same that the leaders of the two Koreas should meet as often as possible at all available opportunities," Ko added.
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