(ATTN: ADDS ministry official's comments in para 6)
SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul emphasized the need for inter-Korean summits Thursday, a day after President Moon Jae-in said he wants to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un later this month.
Kim made the remark in a speech at a forum arranged to mark the anniversary of the first-ever inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang on June 15, 2000, between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
"Bearing in mind the spirit of mutual respect, trust, peace and reciprocity enshrined in the June 15 summit, (we) will continue to implement South-North joint declarations and will never stop our journey for peace on the Korean Peninsula," the minister said.
"To this end, the leaders (of the two Koreas) should continue to meet," he added.
His call for inter-Korean summits came a day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed hope for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un before his planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump later this month.
A ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity that the ministry is currently working hard to make an inter-Korean summit take place at an early date but added it is not considering holding a high-level meeting with the North to discuss summit preparations.
Moon and Kim met three times last year and agreed to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, reduce cross-border tensions and foster cooperation.
Subsequent talks, however, have not progressed in recent months, with major cooperative projects being suspended, apparently affected by the drawn-out stalemate in denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
Moon has repeated his intention to meet with Kim again to break the logjam, but Pyongyang has not responded to the offer for dialogue yet.
North Korean media outlets are accusing South Korea of minding what the U.S. says too much in addressing cross-border issues, demanding Seoul voice its own opinions and faithfully implement their previous summit agreements.
N.K. seeks to distract from domestic hardships with liaison office demolition: experts
N. Korea voices frustration over ties, seeks to close ranks through S. Korea bashing: experts
Landslide victory likely to strengthen Moon's foreign policy hand
Nuclear talks in limbo one year after no-deal Hanoi summit
Moon hopes for spring summit with Trump, feasibility still a question