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Unification minister puts U.S. trip on hold amid uncertainty over inter-Korean relations

North Korea 12:19 June 15, 2021

SEOUL, June 15 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Lee In-young has put on hold a plan to visit the United States this month considering uncertainty over inter-Korean relations, a ministry official said Tuesday.

Lee had sought to visit the U.S. later this month to discuss a coordinated approach toward North Korea as Washington recently completed its policy review on Pyongyang and renewed its commitment to seeking engagement with the communist state.

"The minister's plan to visit the U.S. later in June has been temporarily put on hold," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. "It is necessary to decide on schedules (for such a trip) by looking into situations given that there are various uncertainties over matters related to inter-Korean relations."

He earlier received coronavirus vaccines in preparation for the U.S. trip, during which he had been expected to meet U.S. government officials, think tank leaders and experts on North Korea to discuss inter-Korean ties and cross-border exchanges.

Uncertainty, however, has arisen as North Korea remains unresponsive to calls by South Korea and the U.S. for the resumption of dialogue.

Nor has it issued any official reaction to the results of the summit talks between President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington last month, which emphasized the role of diplomacy to resolve the North's nuclear problem.

Observers believe the North could send messages for South Korea and the U.S. at a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers' Party that Pyongyang said it would hold early this month.

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.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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