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Unification minister to meet US ambassador to discuss inter-Korean cooperation

Unification Minister Lee In-young (Yonhap)
Unification Minister Lee In-young (Yonhap)

Unification Minister Lee In-young was set to meet the US Ambassador to Seoul Harry Harris on Tuesday, the ministry said.

Lee is likely to discuss South Korea's policies for inter-Korean cooperation during the meeting with Harris. It will mark the minister's first meeting with a foreign envoy since he took office last month.

"(Lee) will explain our government's stance for improving inter-Korean relations, and I believe the US will show support for inter-Korean cooperation, but there are no set agenda items, so we will have to see how the meeting goes," a ministry official said.

Possible topics include Lee's push for "small-scale trade" with the North in humanitarian areas to expand cross-border exchanges, which he has pitched as a "creative" way to avoid violating sanctions against the North.

Lee has argued that "small-scale trade" or bartering rice and medicine from the South for mineral water from Mount Kumgang and Mount Paekdu in the North can also avoid violating sanctions as it does not involve sending "bulk cash" to the North.

The minister earlier said South Korea should pursue inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation independently of the "working group" forum set up to coordinate North Korea policy with the United States but stressed it will continue to maintain communication with the US. (Yonhap)