Inter-Korean talks resume in Panmunjom
The officials met today to discuss a joint office and the resumption of separated family meetings. The North proposes a joint celebration for June 15th. Kim Yong-chol will deliver a letter from Kim to Trump. Southern students ask for exchanges with the North.
Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The dialogue between the two Koreas resumed: today, high-level officials met to discuss the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration. On the negotiating table, there is the involvement of the Red Cross and the resumption of meetings of family members separated since the 1950-53 war.
In Panmunjom, representatives of the two Koreas will also discuss the establishment of a contact office in Kaesong, a city on the North Korean border. For its part, the Pyongyang delegation proposed a common celebration in honor of the "Declaration of June 15", adopted during the second intercontinental summit in 2000, but never applied.
The future dialogue also presents thorny issues: for weeks, North Korea has renewed its criticism of the joint military exercises between the South and the US, and has been calling for the repatriation of a group of workers in the North that in 2016 had deserted going through China to the South. For Pyongyang they were "kidnapped" by the former Seoul administration, a position confirmed by some of their testimonies. According to some South Korean civil groups it is plausible that the desertion - at the time "publicized" in an unusual way - was a propaganda act of the conservatives ahead of the elections of that year.
The inter-Korean meeting comes amid fresh openings in the US for a meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Today, Kim Yong-chol will travel to Washington to deliver a letter from Kim Jong-un to the US President. The North Korean leader's right-hand man was in New York for a two-day summit with American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (see photo). The senior US diplomat talks about "good progress" and there are rumors that the summit between the two leaders will be held as scheduled on 12 June.
Dialogue for unity between North and South involve civil society. Today, the students of Seoul National University (SNU) have asked the South Korean Unification Ministry to approve contacts with the students of Kim Il-Sung University, the most important university in the North. At the moment, there are no "concrete discussions on exchanges" between the two institutions. However, it seems that the presidents of the universities met in Beijing on May 4 and 5, during a ceremony in honor of the 120th anniversary of the University of Beijing.