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(LEAD) Unification minister nominee raises need to resume Kaesong complex

All News 17:51 June 13, 2017

(ATTN: CLARIFIES lead; ADDS more background, info throughout)

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- The nominee for South Korea's unification minister on Tuesday raised the need to resume operations at a joint industrial complex which has been suspended since North Korea's nuclear and missile tests in 2016.

Earlier in the day, President Moon Jae-in named Cho Myoung-gyun the country's top point man on unification. He is a former presidential aide who played a key role in preparing for an inter-Korean summit in 2007 under former liberal President Roh Moo-hyun.

Cho declined to give details, but raised the need to resume the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which Seoul shut down in February 2016 over the North's nuclear and missile provocations.

"The industrial complex should be re-opened. In that sense, it would be better to closely review the details," Cho told a group of reporters after the nomination.

In this photo, taken on June 13, 2017, Cho Myoung-gyun, the nominee for South Korea's unification minister, speaks to reporters. (Yonhap)

Cho's appointment is widely seen as reflecting Moon's resolve to thaw inter-Korean relations which have long been frozen under his two conservative predecessors.

Previously, Cho played a role in opening the complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, which opened in 2004 as the symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation.

Moon earlier cast a cautious note over the hasty resumption of the complex and a joint tour program at Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast, saying that there should be progress over the resolution of North Korea's nuclear standoff.

A possible resumption of those projects may spark a row over the violation of U.N. sanctions resolutions that ban the transfer of large amounts of money.

Cho also said that South Korea can seek to hold an inter-Korean summit when needed if the move could help improve long-strained inter-Korean relations.

"(I think that) holding an inter-Korean summit can be pushed to improve the two Koreas' relations and resolve other issues on the Korean Peninsula if needed," he said.

Suh Hoon, South Korea's spy chief, earlier struck a similar note over the need for a third summit. In 2000, the two Koreas held a historic summit, followed by another in 2007.

"I can say it is too early to speak of an inter-Korean summit meeting. Still, we need to hold such a summit." he said on May 10 after his nomination.

Cho, 60, served as a secretary to former liberal President Roh in 2006-2008, after working at the unification ministry.

In August 2007, he accompanied then South Korean spy chief Kim Man-bok on a secret visit to North Korea for the summit.

Cho was also at hand during the summit to transcribe the leaders' talks and was involved in fine-tuning the wording of the summit declaration.

He told reporters that inter-Korean relations have been strained due to multiple factors -- North Korea's nuclear and tests, the international community's response and a change in public sentiment toward North Korea.

"If I becomes the unification minister, I will do my best in resolving North Korea's nuclear issue, improving ties and bringing peace to the peninsula," Cho added.


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