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(LEAD) Unification minister urges N. Korea to implement peace agreements on summit anniversary

All News 14:15 April 27, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more info in 8th para, last 3 paras, photo)
By Koh Byung-joon and Yi Wonju

SEOUL/PAJU, April 27 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Lee In-young urged North Korea on Tuesday to implement inter-Korean summit agreements and come out for talks as he marked the third anniversary of a historic 2018 summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Lee made the remarks during an event organized by civic groups to celebrate the anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration adopted after the summit talks on April 27, 2018, stressing that South Korea is willing to resume talks with the North "anytime, anywhere and on any issues."

"Only through dialogue and cooperation will we be able to realize genuine peace on the Korean Peninsula," Lee said during the event held in Paju, just south of the border with North Korea. "Summit agreements, including the Panmunjom Declaration, should be carried out through dialogue and cooperation."

"We emphasize again that we are willing to talk with the North anytime, anywhere and on any issues regardless of the format," he added. "We hope that North Korea will come out for talks at an early date in respect for the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration."

Unification Minister Lee In-young speaks during a tree-planting event at the Inter-Korean Cooperation Center on Forestry in Paju, north of Seoul, on April 26, 2021. Lee stressed the importance of inter-Korean cooperation in the forest sector, saying it will eventually benefit the people of the two Koreas by reducing carbon emissions on the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)

The minister praised the Panmunjom Declaration as an agreement that helped build a "framework" for a sustainable peace process by declaring there will be no war on the Korean Peninsula.

He, however, expressed regret that progress has not been made over the past three years as much as the people of the two Koreas hoped, saying that it is necessary to build a system to prevent the once-initiated peace process from going backward anymore.

Lee also vowed to push for parliamentary ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration.

"I am sure that the Panmunjom Declaration is not a thing of the past but a part of the still-breathing present on the Korean Peninsula and a landmark toward which the future of greater peace and prosperity should march," he added.

The April 27 summit held at the border village of Panmunjom led to a series of peace talks not only between the two Koreas but also between the North and the United States, including the unprecedented summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The peace process, however, has been stalled since the second summit between Kim and Trump in Hanoi ended without a denuclearization agreement in early 2019, which also brought inter-Korean exchanges and peace talks to a halt. Pyongyang has not responded to Seoul's repeated offers for talks and cross-border cooperation.

In an apparent reflection of the chilled inter-Korean relations, there were no government-organized celebrations in the South on Tuesday to mark the summit anniversary.

North Korea also remained mum about the summit anniversary as they did last year. This came in contrast with the first anniversary in 2019 when the North's state media carried various reports featuring the Panmunjom Declaration and called for its faithful implementation.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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