January 07, 2010 09:44
A North Korean official called for an inter-Korean summit when a team from both Koreas visited industrial parks in China and Vietnam on Dec. 12-22, it emerged Wednesday. The team looked for inspiration for the floundering Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North.
"While traveling with our members for 11 days, a member of the North Korean team mentioned the need for a summit several times to improve inter-Korean relations or develop the Kaesong industrial park," a member of the South Korean delegation said.
"The North has kept sending messages expressing the hope for an inter-Korean summit through various channels, including South Korean businessmen working in the North," the official added.
The team visited nine companies including six South Korean firms and industrial complex management committees at the industrial parks in the two Asian countries.
Unexpectedly, the 10-member North Korean team included Maeng Kyong-il, a member of North Korea's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a key figure in working-level inter-Korean talks. He was a delegate to the inter-Korean ministerial-level talks in September 2005 and came to Seoul last August to attend the funeral of former president Kim Dae-jung.
The North Korean fact-finding mission was officially led by Pak Chol-su, the vice chief of the Special District General Bureau, Pyongyang's agency overseeing the Kaesong industrial park. But Maeng is reportedly more influential than Pak.
Kim Young-tak, a senior representative for inter-Korean talks at the Unification Ministry who led the South Korean team, refused to disclose what he had discussed with the North Korean officials during the trip.
Prof. Lee Jo-won of ChungAng University said, "Since I can see no other reason for a North Korean delegate to inter-Korean talks to travel overseas as a member of the fact-finding mission, it's highly likely that officials from both Koreas exchanged these kinds of messages."
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