Koreas to Hold Summit in Pyongyang
By Kim Yon-se
President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will hold a historic summit in Pyongyang from Aug. 28-30, Cheong Wa Dae announced Wednesday. South and North Korea made public the scheduled summit at 10 a.m. simultaneously.
This will be the second inter-Korean summit since former President Kim Dae-jung met the North Korean leader in Pyongyang in June 2000.
``On Aug. 5, the two sides reached an agreement on holding the second summit,'' Baek Jong-chun, chief presidential secretary for unification, foreign and security policy, told reporters.
Kim Man-bok, chief of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), said he visited Pyongyang twice earlier this month to fine-tune details of the summit and finalized it Sunday.
In the summit, the two leaders are expected to discuss the issue of establishing a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula and ways to end North Korea's nuclear programs.
``The two leaders' discussions on a Korean peace treaty will help widen bilateral military trust and further upgrade mutual economic cooperation and exchanges,'' the two Koreas said in a joint statement issued in Seoul and Pyongyang at the same time.
Both South and North described the summit as a step toward opening a new phase of peace and prosperity on the peninsula.
Officials from the two Koreas will gather in Gaeseong, North Korea, to make preparations for their respective leaders' meeting.
Asked about the reason why the venue is Pyongyang again, the NIS chief said, ``The North said the North Korean capital of Pyongyang would be a good place to welcome President Roh.''
In the 2000 summit, the North Korean leader promised to reciprocate then President Kim Dae-jung's visit to Pyongyang if a second inter-Korean summit took place.
Presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-seon said, ``The government will seek an outcome _ which could also be helpful to the `'next administration'' _ rather than produce immediate results.''
Cheon also said the government held prior consultation with the United States over the second inter-Korean summit.
Dismissing the possibility that the South may have promised to offer behind-the-scenes aid to the North for the summit, he said the government will try to foster public consensus for the necessity of the meeting.
The U.S. welcomed the joint announcement. ``We have long welcomed and supported a North-South dialogue and hope that this meeting will help promote peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, fulfilling the goals of the six-party talks,'' U.S. State Department spokeswoman Joanne Moore said.
But the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) expressed objections to the summit, insisting that it was merely a tactic to influence the Dec. 19 presidential election. ``We oppose the summit. Timing, venue and procedures are all inappropriate right now,'' GNP spokeswoman Na Kyung-won said.
The minor opposition Democratic Labor Party (DLP), welcoming the announcement, said the GNP should refrain from taking an unfavorable attitude.
The People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a leading civic group, said it was happy to hear the news.
Major business lobby groups also welcomed it, expecting the inter-Korean meeting to give a new impetus for inter-Korean businesses such as the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and the Mount Geumgang tourism project.