Seoul (AsiaNews) – Fifteen years after their last prime ministerial-level meeting was held in Pyongyang, North and South Koreas’ two prime ministers are meeting again, this time in Seoul, for a three-day summit to discuss implementing the broad agreement reached last month by the two Korean presidents. Nong Duc Manh, general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party, is also visiting the South Korean capital to meet South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun to offer his country’s services as mediator for the reunification of the Korean peninsula.
Kim Yong-il, one of the most loyal supporters of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, was welcomed with great honour by South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, who took him to one of Seoul’s poshest hotel where he was received by some demonstrators who protested against “the welcome given to an assassin.”
Kim expressed optimism over the talks. “Even a good agreement is nothing more than empty paper if it is not implemented. With a good atmosphere I think the talks will fare well,” he said.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said yesterday that Seoul’s priority was to address issues regarding the establishment of joint economic zones and widening communications networks in Kaesŏng, the intra-Korean industrial complex that serves as a laboratory for co-operation.
Vietnamese Communist Party leader Nong Duc Manh was in South Korea for the same reasons after 12 years of cool diplomatic relations. A few days earlier he was in North Korea on a historic visit during which he met Kim Jong-il.
At a press conference, Nong said that the North Korean leader “rated the inter-Korean summit meeting highly when I met him” and that the latter “said he will resolve the nuclear issue through peaceful dialogue.”
“Vietnam,” he added, “will make an active contribution to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the rapprochement of the two Koreas.”