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(LEAD) Unification minister hopes for S. Korea-U.S. summit to create new momentum for dialogue with N. Korea

North Korea 14:29 May 21, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS minister's remarks at separate forum in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Lee In-young on Friday expressed hope that this week's summit between President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Joe Biden will provide new momentum for dialogue with North Korea.

Moon and Biden are set to hold their first face-to-face summit talks in Washington on Friday (U.S. time), with North Korea expected to be one of the key agenda items, along with cooperation on COVID-19 vaccine and semiconductor supplies.

The summit comes after the U.S. completed its monthslong review of its policy on North Korea, which it says will take "calibrated, practical" steps to rid the reclusive regime of its nuclear arsenal.

"The Korean Peninsula is now at a crossroads of change and opportunity for moving the history of peace a step forward," Lee told a forum held north of Seoul on the peaceful use of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas.

"In particular, through the South Korea-U.S. summit slated for early tomorrow morning, Korea time, I would like to use this event as a chance to pray and hope that a new atmosphere can be created for dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea and cooperation between the South and the North," he added.

Inter-Korean relations remain stalled since a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then U.S. President Donald Trump in early 2019 broke down as they failed to match Pyongyang's denuclearization steps with Washington's concessions, including sanctions relief.

In a speech delivered via video link at a separate forum later in the day, Lee said that an atmosphere favorable to dialogue can be created if there is discussion on applying sanctions on North Korea "flexibly" in a way that cross-border cooperation can be allowed in the humanitarian sector.

Lee urged North Korea to also "flexibly" respond to Seoul and Washington's offers for engagement.

"Should North Korea respond flexibly to our government's pursuit of the peace process on the Korean Peninsula and the Biden administration's new North Korea policy, the timetable for peace and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula will be surely moved up and sped up," he added

In this pool photo via Reuters, South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young speaks during a ceremony to mark the third anniversary of the Panmunjom declaration between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un near the border village of Panmunjom that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, on April 27, 2021. (Yonhap)

In this pool photo via Reuters, South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young speaks during a ceremony to mark the third anniversary of the Panmunjom declaration between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un near the border village of Panmunjom that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, on April 27, 2021. (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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