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(LEAD) Holding inter-Korean summit in June appears to be difficult: gov't

All News 17:24 June 12, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- The government thinks it would be difficult for the two Koreas to hold an inter-Korean summit this month as North Korea is not responding to Seoul's efforts to resume talks, lawmakers said Wednesday.

Speculation has it that President Moon Jae-in may seek to hold his fourth summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un before or after U.S. President Donald Trump visits Seoul late this month.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul told lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that there is no visible progress for summit talks despite the government's efforts to resume dialogue.

"As North Korea is not showing responses, it appears to be difficult for (Moon and Kim) to hold talks this month," Kim was quoted as saying by lawmakers.

Touching on food aid to North Korea, the minister noted that the government will be able to unveil a plan to provide humanitarian food assistance soon, according to lawmakers.

"By taking into account (North Korea's) difficult food situations, we are seeking to provide preemptive assistance at the government level," Kim said at the start of a consultative meeting between the ruling party and the government.

The government is reviewing plans to provide North Korea with humanitarian food assistance in response to reports that the communist state faces worsening food shortages, mainly attributable to global sanctions and unfavorable weather conditions.

Separately, Seoul has donated US$8 million to two U.N. agencies -- the WFP and UNICEF -- to support their own North Korea assistance programs to deliver nutritional and medical products.

Touching on the deadly boat sinking in Hungary, a vice foreign minister vowed efforts to keep close cooperation with Hungarian authorities in finding those who are missing.

The wreck of a tour boat salvaged from the Danube River was safely placed on a barge nearly two weeks after its deadly sinking Tuesday, with four more bodies recovered.

The sightseeing boat, carrying 33 Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew members, capsized and sank after colliding with a large cruise ship in late May. So far, 22 South Koreans have been confirmed dead and four still remain missing. Seven were rescued right after the accident.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul (R) speaks at a consultative meeting between the ruling party and the government held at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 12, 2019. (Yonhap)


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