Secret Inter-Korean Meetings Over Summit Collapsed

      February 01, 2010 09:14

      Seoul and Pyongyang held two rounds of secret meetings in the North Korean border city of Kaesong in November to discuss a possible inter-Korean summit but failed to narrow differences over the nuclear issue, South Korean prisoners of war and abduction victims, and humanitarian aid.

      Won Tong-yon, the deputy director of North Korea's United Front Department who headed the North Korean delegation, had reportedly already prepared a draft summit agreement. Won also drafted the 2007 summit agreement between president Roh Moo-hyun and leader Kim Jong-il.

      According to South Korean officials, the director-general of a Unification Ministry bureau and Won met twice at a hotel in Kaesong on Nov. 7 and 14. Prior communication had been made through a channel in the truce village of Panmunjom.

      The South Korean delegation demanded that the term "denuclearization" be mentioned at the beginning of the summit agreement, but the North Koreans insisted it would be possible to use only the expression "progress in the nuclear issue." North Korean officials reportedly repeated that the nuclear issue is a matter that they should discuss with the U.S.

      The South Koreans also demanded the repatriation of South POWs and abduction victims languishing in the North, but the North Koreans said home visits would be the best they could permit.

      The North demanded that humanitarian aid including food and fertilizer be specified in the summit agreement or be given before the summit, but the South said aid would depend entirely on progress in the other two issues.

      When the meetings ended without tangible results, the North Korean media went through a period of daily criticism of the Unification Ministry and Minister Hyun In-taek, but this stopped on Dec. 27.

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