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(2nd LD) Koreas to push for joint commemorative events in summer

All Headlines 15:55 May 08, 2015

(ATTN: CHANGES headline; ADDS more info in paras 14-15)

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea agreed Friday to push for joint events to mark the 15th anniversary of a historic inter-Korean summit and the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan's colonial rule.

The two sides will designate a two-month joint commemoration period from June 15 under a deal between representatives from the South's civilian groups and North Koreans. They had a meeting in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang earlier this week.

A historic summit between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was held on June 15, 2000 and Korea's Liberation Day falls on Aug. 15, which marks Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

"During that period, the two sides plan to actively push for joint events and cooperative projects to promote national unity, reconciliation and move toward unification," read a joint statement.

Representatives from the South said that the two sides tentatively agreed to hold a summit anniversary event from June 14-16 in Seoul. But the two sides have not reached a consensus on a joint ceremony to mark the liberation day, they added.

The South Korean government will wait for further details to decide whether to approve the scheme.

Seoul has recently vowed to spur civilian inter-Korean exchanges in the areas of culture, sports and other non-political programs to help improve the strained inter-Korean ties.

In the June 2000 summit, the leaders of the two Koreas produced a landmark joint declaration, which outlines reconciliation and economic cooperation. South and North Korea remain technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The summit events were last held in 2008 on Mount Kumgang, a scenic resort on North Korea's east coast.

The move comes as this year also marks the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan's colonial rule and the division of the two Koreas.

To support the celebration of the landmark year, Seoul approved civilian groups' preparatory talks on the summit events for the first time since 2010 when it imposed punitive sanctions on North Korea that ban inter-Korean exchanges with the North except humanitarian aid.

South Korea imposed the sanctions in May 2010 to punish the North for its deadly torpedoing of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March of that year.

Seoul's civic group also said that North Korea is positively considering sending its cheering squad to the Gwangju Universiade that will be held on South Korean soil from July 3-14.

South Korea said that it is too early to say that the government would approve the commemorative events as the two sides have not reached a consensus for the venue and other details.

"The government will review whether to approve them if details for the events are finalized," said a Unification Ministry official, asking not to be named. He added that "civilian exchanges in non-political sectors" would be permitted if they helped improve inter-Korean ties.

The relations between the two Koreas have been frayed as North Korea has continued its provocative acts by launching nuclear tests and missiles.

Seoul has offered high-level talks with Pyongyang, but the North has not responded to the South's proposal, calling for South Korea to lift its punitive sanctions as a precondition for the talks.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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