North Korea has not shown any official response to its agreement to hold a summit with Seoul in late April and a rare meeting with US President Donald Trump by May.
The Chosun Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan, reported the planned inter-Korean summit on Saturday, but deleted the report a day later. The paper is not part of North Korea's official media, but it serves as a mouthpiece for Pyongyang.
"North Korea seems to need more time and is taking a cautious approach in setting its stance (over the envisioned summits with the South and the US)," Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman at Seoul's unification ministry, told a press briefing.
|A mass rally held in Pyongyang on Jan. 4 (Yonhap)|
The spokesman said that the government is seeking to set up a committee to prepare for an inter-Korean summit, though the two Koreas have yet to start working-level consultations.
If held, it would be the third summit between the two Koreas, following those in 2000 and 2007.
Meanwhile, the ministry said that the government may have to withhold approval for the request of local businessmen to visit a now-shuttered industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong, as the North has yet to take the necessary actions to facilitate such a trip.
South Korean companies that operated factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex asked the government late last month to allow their trip to the park to inspect facilities on March 12. The deadline for the government's review for approval falls on Thursday.
"The government shared the need raised by firms to inspect factories at the complex. But the North has yet to give a response, even though there are necessary steps, such as North Korea's sending of an invitation for the trip to the North," Baik said.
"So if the current situation proceeds this way, the government is likely to withhold (approval for) their trip as it did last time," he added.
The previous conservative government shut down the factory zone in February 2016 in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.
With the PyeongChang Winter Olympics setting the tone for rapprochement between the two Koreas, local firms have sought to visit the park, once hailed as a symbol of inter-Korean economic cooperation.
Shin Han-yong, the head of a task force representing the South Korean firms, said they will wait and see the results of the April inter-Korean summit if their latest plan falls through instead of immediately seeking approval again. (Yonhap)