Cheong Wa Dae still places hopes in Beijing Olympics for inter-Korean summit

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An inter-Korean summit on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February is still an option, Park Soo-hyun, senior communications secretary to President Moon Jae-in, said on Thursday.

“We are making efforts for peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula with all possibilities remaining on the table,” Park said in a radio interview with MBC, when asked about the possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attends the Beijing Games.

South Korea has sought to use the upcoming Olympics as an opportunity to draw closer to the reclusive regime, but uncertainties are growing.

Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee suspended the North Korean Olympic Committee until the end of 2022 as punishment for Pyongyang’s unilateral decision not to compete in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

“Despite some skepticism about Kim’s participation in the Olympics, China is also expected to play a political role in resolving the issue,” Park said of the IOC’s decision.

Park’s remarks came after Moon reiterated his willingness to declare a formal end to the Korean War in his keynote address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. In an unusual gesture, the president mentioned the names of the signatories of the proposed declaration – the two Koreas, the United States and China.

Park called an end-of-war declaration a symbolic and political act that could be the starting point for building confidence among nations towards the ultimate goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

The president had made similar suggestions in his previous speeches at the UN, but North Korea’s response has been lukewarm so far.

“The matter can be discussed quickly once the North returns to the negotiating table with the United States,” Park said, noting that North Korea had agreed to such a declaration at the 2018 inter-Korean summit.

Meanwhile, opposition parties criticized Moon’s speech at the UN for failing to mention North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. In response, Park said, “The government is looking to make the best decision given many situations.”

By Lee Ji-yoon ([email protected])


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