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Parties divided over inter-Korean summit

2018/02/12 11:45

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SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- The leader of the ruling Democratic Party said Monday that a summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would serve as a meaningful first step toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

The North's leader, via his sister and special envoy, Kim Yo-jong, has invited Moon to visit the North for what would be a third inter-Korean summit. Moon said in response that he hopes that the right conditions will be created so that the proposed visit can take place.

The response was seen as meaning that there should first be progress on efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff, such as talks between the United Sates and the North, before an inter-Korean summit takes place. Moon also called for the North to step forward to engage the U.S. in talks.

On Monday, Rep. Choo Mi-ae, the ruling party leader, welcomed the North's proposal.

"Should an inter-Korean summit take place, it would be a meaningful starting point toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Choo said during a meeting of party leaders.

Choo also said she hopes to see the U.S. and the North reopen talks.

"If an inter-Korean summit is realized, it will be recorded as the biggest achievement of the PyeongChang Olympics," she said. "We have to work with greater responsibility as we make preparations and respond carefully to the invitation."

   Choo said the government should persuade South Korea's allies to realize a summit with the North.

"Although there may be disagreements and concerns at home and abroad, what's clear is that peace stems from dialogue and it's impossible to oppose dialogue if we want peace," she said.

Rep. Lee Jeong-mi of the minor leftist Justice Party, also called for a summit with the North and urged the government to send a special envoy to Pyongyang to set it up.

"A third inter-Korean summit will firmly show to the world that the Korean Peninsula has chosen peace over war," Lee said. "The Justice Party will provide the utmost support for the government's efforts."

   But conservative parties voiced opposition to a summit unless denuclearization is agreed.

Rep. Chang Je-won, spokesman of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said that Moon met four times with the North Korean leader's sister during her three-day stay in South Korea but failed to bring up the issue of denuclearization.

"We once again warn that a visit by the president to North Korea, unless it is premised on denuclearization, would be nothing more than a congratulatory delegation celebrating (the North's) nuclear development and would amount to an enemy-benefiting act," Chang said in a statement.

Yoo Seong-min, leader of the minor opposition Bareun Party, also voiced opposition.

"What the president has to do is to put the maximum sanctions and pressure on the North and carry out Korea-U.S. military exercises right after the Olympics while persuading the U.S. not to use a military option (against the North)," Yoo said. "If we're going to have an inter-Korean summit without resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, not doing it would be more helpful to our security."

   jschang@yna.co.kr

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