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FM says rapid progress can't be expected in inter-Korean relations
SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- Inter-Korean relations cannot be expected to make rapid progress despite last week's rare denuclearization talks between the sides, Seoul's foreign minister said Monday.

   South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan made the remark on a radio program, three days after the meeting took place on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Bali, Indonesia. Wi Sung-lac, South Korea's top envoy to the stalled six-party denuclearization talks, and his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, held talks for the first time in 31 months, raising hopes for a breakthrough in chilled inter-Korean ties.

  
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan (L) talks to his North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui-chun, in Bali, Indonesia, on July 23. (Yonhap)


"(We) can't immediately expect rapid progress in inter-Korean relations just because of the Bali talks," Kim said. "The Bali talks have significance in that they played a kind of catalytic role in inter-Korean relations."

   The trip to New York by North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, later this week, and ensuing talks between South Korea and the U.S. will help shape the path to reviving the six-party talks, the minister added. The six-way forum, involving the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the U.S., was last held in December 2008.

   Kim also stressed that South Korea remains firm in its demand for North Korea to take responsible steps over the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the artillery shelling of the South's Yeonpyeong Island, which killed a total of 50 South Koreans last year.

   "I expect that with progress in denuclearization, there could be progress in South-North relations," he said.

  (END)
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