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(2nd LD) S. Korea scales down inter-Korean summit anniversary event in wake of African swine fever outbreak

All Headlines 19:56 September 17, 2019

(ATTN: REASTS headline, first 6 paras; ADDS background info in last 2 paras)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Tuesday that it will hold a scaled-down event this week to mark the first anniversary of an inter-Korean summit following a confirmed case of African swine fever near its border with North Korea.

The government earlier said it would hold the event at Dorasan Station in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border, on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the third summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang last year.

As part of the celebration, hundreds of people from across the country were to board the so-called peace train traveling from Seoul to Dorasan Station.

Those plans will be scrapped and a separate celebratory event will be held in central Seoul on Thursday to "remember the meaning and achievements of the Pyongyang Declaration" adopted at the summit, according to the ministry.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul will attend the meeting, the ministry said. Other details have yet to be announced.

The decision came after South Korea confirmed the first case of African swine fever at a farm in Paju earlier in the day.

The animal disease does not affect humans but is deadly to pigs. There are currently no vaccines nor cures for the disease. Since its outbreak in China in August last year, the disease has spread to neighboring countries, including Mongolia and Vietnam.

The disease's outbreak in South Korea came about four months after North Korea reported its first confirmed case of the disease at a farm near its border with China to the World Organization for Animal Health.

It is as yet unclear through which route the disease broke out here.

Following the outbreak in the North, Seoul has repeatedly asked Pyongyang to cooperate to prevent the spread of the disease across the border, but has received no response to the proposal.

Moon and Kim held three summit meetings last year -- in April, May and September -- in which the leaders promised to boost cross-border exchanges and ease military tensions, but inter-Korean relations have been all but stalled of late, apparently stymied by lack of progress in Pyongyang's denuclearization talks with the United States.

South Korea has not invited North Korea to Thursday's summit anniversary event, apparently reflecting the recently chilled relations between the two Koreas.

In April, South Korea held an event at the border village of Panmunjom to celebrate the anniversary of the first inter-Korean summit between Moon and Kim last year. It notified the North about the event, but no North Koreans were sent to take part in the celebration.

Quarantine officials control access to a pig farm in Paju, north of Seoul, on Sept. 17, 2019, after the first case of African swine fever in South Korea was confirmed at the farm. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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