Published : 2013-08-25 15:40
Updated : 2013-08-25 15:40
South Korea is not considering holding a summit with North Korea at the moment as conditions are not yet ripe for such a meeting, Seoul's unification minister said Sunday.
Pyongyang has recently shifted from a bellicose posture to dialogue mode by agreeing with Seoul to resume a jointly run factory complex in the communist country that has been shuttered since early April amid tension sparked by the North's nuclear test in February.
Last week, the Koreas also agreed to hold reunions from Sept. 25-30 for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, the first such meeting to take place in nearly three years. South Korean President Park Geun-hye first proposed the family reunions during her Liberation Day speech on Aug. 15, a day after the two sides agreed to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
"In order for a summit meeting to be productive, conditions should first be ripe to a considerable extent," Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told a local TV program. "Seoul is not weighing a summit meeting that could resolve all inter-Korean issues within a wide framework."
"I don't think the leaders of the Koreas will be able to work out many intertwined inter-Korean issues at once," he said. "There will come an opportune time for an inter-Korean meeting."
The last inter-Korean summit was held in Pyongyang in early October 2007 between late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met with Kim in Pyongyang in mid-June 2000, the first inter-Korean summit.
Touching on the normalization of the joint industrial park that opened in 2004 following the inaugural summit, Ryoo said he expects South Korean mangers to be able to enter the North Korean border city of Kaesong as early as next week."
However, the timing of reopening the factory park will hinge on how the Koreas form a joint committee to run the complex and prevent another unilateral shutdown, he added.
In the past, a North Korean government body, the General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone, effectively made all decisions regarding operations at the Kaesong complex.
On Aug. 14, the Koreas agreed to reopen the complex that had been idled since the North pulled all of its 53,000 workers from South Korean factories there in protest of annual military exercises by South Korea and the United States.
The unification minister also said Seoul will not lift sanctions against Pyongyang until the North adopts steps to take responsibility for the sinking of a South Korean ship near the western sea border in 2010.
"The (South Korean) public will not endorse the government's easing of the sanctions unless the North takes convincing steps regarding the incident," he said.
South Korea severed almost all trade and diplomatic exchanges with the North on May 24, 2010, as punishment for North Korea's torpedoing of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in the Yellow Sea in March that year.
Regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, Ryoo said that "a more effective change" in North Korean attitude may come should South Korea, the United States and China work more closely to induce that.
The six-way talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear program have been dormant since late 2008 after the North walked out of the negotiations amid mounting pressure over the country's rocket launch. The talks involve the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan. (Yonhap news)