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(LEAD) Koreas won't hold joint civilian inter-Korean summit celebration

All News 15:07 June 09, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more information in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korean groups will not hold a joint inter-Korean summit anniversary event in Pyongyang next week amid heightened military tensions, officials at the South's agency said Friday.

The two Koreas' civic groups have been seeking to hold a joint celebration to mark the first summit on June 15, 2000, after new liberal President Moon Jae-in's government said it would flexibly consider resuming civilian inter-Korean exchanges.

The South's preparatory group said that the two sides have decided to hold separate celebrative events, instead of a joint occasion.

North Korea has yet to invite the South group for a joint summit event, but the group expressed regret over the government's prudent stance over possible approval of civilians' visit to North Korea for it.

South Korea's unification ministry said it will take into account the event's purpose, inter-Korean ties and the international environment in reviewing its approval.

South Koreans' joining the summit event in Pyongyang could be burdensome for Moon's government as it could give the impression to the international community that Seoul allows a potentially political event in North Korea amid the sanctions regime.

"It is regrettable that the government has not presented a clear stance over its approval," said an official at the agency. "The government should actively take actions to implement inter-Korean agreements, including the 2000 summit declaration."

North Korea has recently turned down South Korean civic and religious groups' move to revive inter-Korean exchanges. Instead, it called on Seoul to implement two summit declarations, made in 2000 and 2007, before it seeks to resume exchanges.

The ministry said last month that the government plans to spur civilian inter-Korean exchanges to an extent that the move does not compromise the international sanctions regime.

There has been no state approval for civic groups' plan to seek contact with North Korea since Pyongyang rejected exchanges Monday. The ministry has approved 15 civilian requests so far since May.

Seoul said it will sternly respond to North Korea's provocations while seeking to revive engagement with the North.

"The international community's adoption of the latest sanctions resolution is a response to North Korea's violation of agreements on denuclearization and continued provocations," Lee Eugene, a vice spokesperson at the ministry, told a regular press briefing.

"North Korea should bear in mind that its nuclear and missile programs will only bring about international isolation and economic hardship," she said.

This photo taken on June 2, 2017, shows members of a South Korean civic group calling on the government to expand civilian inter-Korean exchanges. (Yonhap)


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