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South Korea, US tune stances on inter-Korean economic cooperation

Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea, arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Seoul on Monday for a working group meeting with Rhee Dong-yeol, director general of the Korean Peninsula Peace Regime Bureau. (Yonhap)
Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea, arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Seoul on Monday for a working group meeting with Rhee Dong-yeol, director general of the Korean Peninsula Peace Regime Bureau. (Yonhap)


South Korea and the US held a working group meeting on Monday in Seoul, aimed at coordinating policy on North Korea, as Seoul seeks to engage the North through inter-Korean exchanges, such as allowing South Korean travelers to visit North Korea.

Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea, arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Seoul for a closed-door meeting with his South Korean counterpart Rhee Dong-yeol, director general of the Korean Peninsula Peace Regime Bureau.

The pair discussed issues regarding North Korea, including inter-Korean relations, US-North Korea talks and nuclear issues, according to the ministry official. Details of the talks were kept under wraps.

“It is my understanding that President Moon’s plan for inter-Korean cooperation that was announced during his New Year’s address was being discussed during the meeting,” Unification Ministry spokesperson Yoh Sang-key told a regular press briefing.

President Moon Jae-in has stressed implementing inter-Korean projects, including reconnecting railways and roads, individual tourism to the North, and cooperation in the border area, to help break the nuclear impasse between North Korea and the US and pave the way for international sanctions to be lifted.

While Seoul has said individual tourism would not violate UN-led sanctions against Pyongyang, the US has called on the South to discuss its plans, to avoid weakening the allies’ united front of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.

“The issue of individual trips is not subject to consultations between Seoul and Washington, as the government has consistently said,” Yoh said. “But Seoul will brief on our stance (on individual tourism), for the US’ cooperation on the matter.”

During his stay in Seoul until Wednesday, Wong is expected to meet with officials from Seoul’s Unification Ministry and Cheong Wa Dae. Before the talks on Monday, Wong paid a courtesy call on Lee Do-hoon, South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy.

A joint working group between the two allies was created in 2018, in a move to coordinate their approaches to North Korea, regarding diplomacy, denuclearization efforts, sanction implementation and inter-Korean cooperation.

South Korea and the US held a working group meeting on Monday in Seoul, aimed at coordinating policy on North Korea, as Seoul seeks to engage the North through inter-Korean exchanges, such as allowing South Korean travelers to visit North Korea.
Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea, arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in central Seoul for a closed-door meeting with his South Korean counterpart Rhee Dong-yeol, director general of the Korean Peninsula Peace Regime Bureau.
The pair discussed issues regarding North Korea, including inter-Korean relations, US-North Korea talks and nuclear issues, according to the ministry official. Details of the talks were kept under wraps.
“It is my understanding that President Moon’s plan for inter-Korean cooperation that was announced during his New Year’s address was being discussed during the meeting,” Unification Ministry spokesperson Yoh Sang-key told a regular press briefing.
President Moon Jae-in has stressed implementing inter-Korean projects, including reconnecting railways and roads, individual tourism to the North, and cooperation in the border area, to help break the nuclear impasse between North Korea and the US and pave the way for international sanctions to be lifted.
While Seoul has said individual tourism would not violate UN-led sanctions against Pyongyang, the US has called on the South to discuss its plans, to avoid weakening the allies’ united front of “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.
“The issue of individual trips is not subject to consultations between Seoul and Washington, as the government has consistently said,” Yoh said. “But Seoul will brief on our stance (on individual tourism), for the US’ cooperation on the matter.”
During his stay in Seoul until Wednesday, Wong is expected to meet with officials from Seoul’s Unification Ministry and Cheong Wa Dae. Before the talks on Monday, Wong paid a courtesy call on Lee Do-hoon, South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy.
A joint working group between the two allies was created in 2018, in a move to coordinate their approaches to North Korea, regarding diplomacy, denuclearization efforts, sanction implementation and inter-Korean cooperation. 

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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