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S. Korea needs to disband joint 'working group' with U.S.: ex-unification minister

All Headlines 10:15 July 16, 2020

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- A former South Korean unification minister called on the new minister nominee, Lee In-young, to dissolve a joint "working group" forum set up to coordinate North Korea policy with the United States, saying it hinders inter-Korean cooperation.

Jeong Se-hyun, former unification minister and current executive vice chairperson of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council, made the remarks Thursday during an interview with TongTong TV, Yonhap News Agency's entertainment news channel on YouTube.

"If unification minister nominee Lee In-young takes office, he needs to push ahead with it in a bold manner ... The unification ministry has not been able to do anything because of the working group," Jeong said.

"Why on earth did such a thing as the explosion of the joint liaison office take place? It's because the working group held back inter-Korean relations every single step of the way," he added.

Seoul and Washington set up a joint working group in November 2018 to coordinate their approaches on the North's denuclearization, humanitarian aid, sanctions enforcement and inter-Korean relations.

North Korea has lambasted the working group as a hindrance to progress in inter-Korean relations. Some critics in Seoul also say it has served as a roadblock in seeking cross-border exchanges and cooperation as it mainly handles whether such projects run counter to global sanctions against the North.

Jeong Se-hyun, executive vice chairman of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council, speaks during a meeting in Seoul on Feb. 11, 2020, to call for the reopening of the shuttered joint industrial complex in the North Korean city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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