Republic of Korea (RoK) Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik has proposed unconditional talks with Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to discuss reunions of families separated by the Korean War, tours by RoK tourists to a mountain resort in DPRK and other stalled cross-border projects, in an interview published yesterday.
“I want to deliver my proposal to have dialogue, ease tension, raise the mood of peace and work together to deal with difficulties faced by DPRK,” Yu said in an interview with the Korea Herald, an English language newspaper.
He proposed the talks be held without any preconditions.
“The most urgent agendum is the reunion of separated families. We have no time to lose as most of them are very old… and many have already passed away,” he added.
Family reunions were last held in October 2010, a year in which relations between the two Koreas became especially strained.
RoK has been demanding DPRK apologise for two deadly attacks on RoK in 2010 – an alleged torpedo attack that sunk a RoK navy patrol ship Cheonan and its shelling RoK border island Yeonpyeong.
The tour programme to Mt Kumgang in DPRK was halted after a RoK tourist was shot dead there by a DPRK soldier in July 2008.
“We are leaving the door of dialogue and the window of opportunities open. I do not attach any pre-conditions, even over issues of DPRK’s apology for its attacks on Cheonan and the security guarantee for (tourists to Mt Kumgang). We can solve them through dialogue,” Yu said.
“All the previous offers for dialogue by RoK government are still valid. If DPRK makes another proposal by its necessity, I will gladly accept it,” he said.
Lee’s five-year term is to end in early next year./.