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Nuke Envoys to Discuss Resuming Inter-Korean Projects at DC Meeting

Write: 2020-01-16 15:32:35Update: 2020-01-16 18:29:40

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: In line with President Moon Jae-in's resolve to resume inter-Korean cooperation projects in the new year, Seoul's top nuclear envoy is set to discuss the matter with U.S. officials in Washington. The envoy said Seoul is seeking to find space for the projects within the framework of international sanctions.
Choi You Sun reports.

Report: South Korea's top nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon is in Washington to meet his U.S. counterpart Stephen Biegun on Thursday. 

Lee plans to discuss Seoul's desire to resume inter-Korean projects, including individual tours to North Korea's Mount Geumgang by families separated by the Korean War.

Meeting with reporters after arriving at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, Lee highlighted the need to seek understanding from the U.S.

[Sound bite: Lee Do-hoon - S. Korea's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs (Korean)]
"[The tours] are not prohibited by UN Security Council sanctions. But we have been refraining ourselves in coordination (with the U.S.) and have been addressing internal issues as well. I believe it to be the most urgent to candidly exchange positions on the matter and to seek understanding (from the U.S.)"

Lee reaffirmed Seoul’s respect for the international sanctions regime, while at the same stressing the need to carve out space for cross-border projects.

[Sound bite: Lee Do-hoon - S. Korea's Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs (Korean)]
"If we didn't respect (the sanctions regime), we wouldn't need to consult on the matter. The fact that we're seeking consultation means we're seeking to find space (to conduct inter-Korean projects) while respecting the international sanctions regime."

During his New Year's speech and subsequent news conference earlier this week, President Moon Jae-in reaffirmed his will to resume inter-Korean cooperation.

[Sound bite: President Moon Jae-in's New Year address (Korean/Jan. 7)]
"If South and North Korea find a realistic solution to realize the project of linking railways between them, it can lead to international cooperation and also provide the groundwork to revive inter-Korean tour projects and tourism in North Korea."  

As Moon suggested individual tours to North Korea are not subject to UN sanctions during a news conference this week, a U.S. State Department official commented that the U.S. and its ally South Korea are "committed to their unified response" to the regime. 

The South Korean envoy said under circumstances where the momentum for dialogue is weakening, it would be critical for Seoul and Washington to manage the situation in a stable manner while seeking to revive momentum.

He added the U.S. is tasked to do what it can to keep engagement momentum with the North, while the South's role would be to focus on improving inter-Korean ties in facilitating the denuclearization talks.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.

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