Unification Minister Lee In-young speaks during a forum at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday, to discuss ways to normalize communication lines between the two Koreas. Inter-Korean communication lines have remained severed since North Korea blew up the liaison office in its border town of Kaesong in June in protest of anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent from the South. (Yonhap)
Unification Minister Lee In-young tried to convey his "sincerity" about inter-Korean cooperation when he called for sharing coronavirus vaccines with North Korea, an official said Thursday, following criticism the appeal was inappropriate as South Korea has yet to secure enough vaccines.
Last week, Lee said that the South should share coronavirus vaccines with the North even if the country runs short of its own supplies. The remark came under fire from conservatives as it came at a time when the country has yet to secure enough vaccines.
"We did not intend to say that we will give away (vaccines) to North Korea even if we are short of them. It was to deliver our sincerity toward inter-Korean cooperation despite lacking a little (supplies)," a unification ministry official said.
"Please understand it as an expression of the strong will of our government towards cooperation in the field of public health," he said.
The official also denied a news report that the ministry proposed a one-on-one meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi who is visiting Seoul for a three-day trip and that Wang rejected the meeting.
"When officials from major countries visit Seoul, whether to hold a ministerial meeting is usually up for discussion. We did review the possibility of proposing a meeting when Minister Wang visits South Korea, but we decided not to for many reasons," the official said. (Yonhap)