SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will push for joint projects with North Korea as much as it can on its own, the unification ministry said Wednesday, after the U.S. ambassador said that inter-Korean relations should move forward in tandem with denuclearization.
Amb. Harry Harris made the remark Tuesday in an interview with South Korean broadcaster KBS, saying that various inter-Korean issues, including North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's possible visit to South Korea, "should be done in consultation with" the United States.
Asked to comment on Harris' remarks, unification ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min cited President Moon Jae-in's earlier vow to seek various ways to boost cross-border cooperation and stressed South Korea's position at the heart of Korean Peninsula issues.
"As the party directly involved in the Korean Peninsula issue, South Korea will expand room for maneuvers and move forward things that can be carried out independently as much as possible," ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min told a regular press briefing.
In his New Year's address, Moon proposed that the two Koreas make concerted efforts to create the conditions for Kim to visit South Korea as agreed and reaffirmed his commitment to pushing for the resumption of two major inter-Korean proejcts -- the Kaesong industrial complex and Mount Kumgang tours -- as well as the reconnection of roads and railways across the border.
Moon's offer came at a time when inter-Korean relations remain stalled amid scant progress in denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea.
North Korea has blamed the South for dragging its feet in pushing for inter-Korean cooperation projects for fear of violating sanctions and has remained unresponsive to Seoul's repeated offers for talks.
Blinken likely to seek stronger alliance, multilateral approach toward N. Korea: experts
(News Focus) Moon to seek new teamwork with Biden over N. Korea, 'top-down' diplomacy in doubt
(News Focus) Biden to give S. Korea more 'room' in inter-Korean policy: experts
(News Focus) Biden likely to shift to more cautious, conventional N. Korea diplomacy
(News Focus) N. Korea's name-calling war with Trump, Biden: from 'dotard' to 'fool of low IQ'