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Seoul pushing to convey DMZ park plan to N. Korea

South Korea is pushing for a meeting with North Korea during an international conference in Switzerland this week to convey its plan to create a peace park in the Demilitarized Zone bisecting the Koreas, officials said Monday.

The plan to set up the ecological park in the DMZ was first drawn in 2013 by the Park Geun-hye government as part of efforts to facilitate peace on the Korean Peninsula.

In its annual policy report for this year, the unification ministry again brought up the plan, saying that the government will push to seek international cooperation, which is necessary to set up the park in the military buffer zone, now controlled by the United Nations Command.

“(Seoul) plans to dispatch a delegation of officials from the unification and environment ministries to the standing committee meeting to be held in Gland, Switzerland, from Jan. 26-30 and brief international organization officials on the DMZ ecological peace park plan to seek their cooperation,” a government official said.

“If we get a chance to encounter the North Korean delegation, (we) will explain the DMZ park plan to them,” the officials said.

North Korea is expected to dispatch its delegation to the 48th standing committee meeting of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands as an observer country.

The South Korean delegation is scheduled to meet with the convention’s Secretary-General Christopher Briggs, as well as Marco Lambertini, the director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature, during the five-day gathering, the officials said.

It remains, however, to be seen whether the North will accept the plan, given the communist country’s previous criticism of the DMZ park plan.

The DMZ, which is about 250 kilometers long and 4 km wide, is a mine-filled buffer zone, with the rival Koreas technically in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)