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Park’s special envoy meets with N. Korean ceremonial leader

President Park Geun-hye’s special envoy has met North Korea’s ceremonial head of state at a ceremony in Russia marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, Seoul officials said Sunday.

Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling Saenuri Party had a “brief encounter” with Kim Yong-nam, president of the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly as they laid a wreath on the graves of unknown soldiers alongside other world leaders and top officials on Saturday.

“The encounter took place naturally during the ceremony,” a Foreign Ministry official here said. “During the meeting, Yoon made general comments such as to hope for the improvement of inter-Korean relations.”

Yoon, who also serves as a presidential special adviser on political affairs, has been in Moscow since Friday on behalf of Park. As a member of the National Assembly’s foreign affairs and unification committee, the second-term lawmaker has voiced the need for behind-the-scenes talks or a special envoy to Pyongyang as essential for a breakthrough in the protracted cross-border stalemate. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and North Korean Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong-nam shake hands at their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Saturday. (AP-Yonahp)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and North Korean Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong-nam shake hands at their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Saturday. (AP-Yonahp)

Yet he denied any planned consultation with Kim or Park’s message to deliver during a media interview shortly before his departure, while leaving open the possibility a “natural contact” during which he could possibly pitch the Park administration’s “sincerity” toward inter-Korean dialogue.

During his five-day stay, Yoon is scheduled to have meetings with Yury Ushakov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser, and other officials. He will return home Tuesday.

Kim, for his part, arrived in Moscow on Saturday for a three-day visit after leader Kim Jong-un canceled what would have been his first overseas trip since taking power in December 2011.

While the leader stays at home, Kim Yong-nam has been representing the country on various overseas outings. He also took part in an Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta last month, holding meetings with the leaders of Iran, Indonesia, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, as well as top officials from elsewhere.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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