South Korea to extend economic cooperation with North Korea

South Korea to extend economic cooperation with North Korea

Seoul [South Korea]: South Korea on Monday vowed to extend economic cooperation with North Korea aiming to break the impasse in the denuclearisation process of the Korean peninsula.

“It is time for us to reap the fruits of peace that we have sown so far,” Yonhap news agency quoted Kim Yeon-chul, the newly sworn in unification minister (promoting Korean reunification), as saying.

“We need to seize the opportunity for co-prosperity of the South and the North. We never know when such a chance will come again if we miss it,” Kim added.

Kim replaced Cho Myoung-gyon who had served as unification minister handling inter-Korea affairs under the Moon Jae-in government since July 2017.

“I will work hard to strengthen a virtuous circle in which we strengthen peace by using business as a link and strengthen economic cooperation (with North Korea) again based on peace,” Kim said.

However, he did not mention any particular project with North Korea but promised to reopen the suspended cross-border projects, including an industrial complex in the North’s border town of Kaesong and tours to Mount Kumgang on the North’s east coast.

The developments have come ahead of the upcoming summit between United States President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, scheduled to take place in Washington on April 11.

This will be the first meeting between the two leaders since the February summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi which ended abruptly without reaching any deal.

Kim further emphasised the importance of building inter-Korean relations in a consistent manner. “What is most important at this point is to advance the peace trend that started last year to an irreversible stage,” Kim said.
“By advancing and institutionalising inter-Korean relations, we should lay a firm foundation toward our people’s aspiration for peaceful unification. We should put an end to the unfortunate history of inter-Korean relations that have moved and stopped over and over again,” he was quoted as saying.

South Korea has been pushing for various cross-border projects with North Korea lately, aiming at bringing Pyongyang to the negotiating table.

Washington, however, resists the idea as it could undermine the global sanctions regime against Pyongyang amid little progress in the denuclearisation process.

Trump, however, has maintained that relations with North Korea continue to be good, going as far as cancelling new sanctions against Pyongyang, deeming them as unnecessary.