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Unification minister voices hope for 'warm breeze' in frosty inter-Korean ties during Panmunjom visit

North Korea 17:38 November 29, 2022

By Yi Wonju

SEOUL/PAJU, Nov. 29 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kwon Young-se made his first visit to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom as Seoul's top point man on Pyongyang on Tuesday.

He expressed hope for "even a warm breeze" to help warm frosty relations between the two Koreas as he toured Panmunjom, which often served as the venue for inter-Korean talks.

"We hope to sit down (with the North Korean side) right here in Panmunjom to start discussions on inter-Korean issues soon ... we hope North Korea responds to our offer," he told pool reporters. "The only way to resolve the problem of inter-Korean relations is to restore broken trust through steady dialogue."

Unification Minister Kwon Young-se (3rd from L) visits the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom on Nov. 29, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Unification Minister Kwon Young-se (3rd from L) visits the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom on Nov. 29, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The Armistice Agreement that effectively ended the 1950-53 Korean War was signed at Panmunjom and the two Koreas held more than 370 rounds of dialogue there from historic Red Cross talks in 1971 to a summit meeting in 2018, he noted.

He stressed that the South Korean government "holds no hostile intention" toward Pyongyang but warned that it will not tolerate any military provocations or nuclear threats.

Kwon said, however, "If the North continues to develop missiles and nuclear weapons and stage provocations as it is doing now, it will only add difficulties to maintaining its regime, let alone achieving prosperity."

Since the launch of the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration in the South in May, the North has sharply escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula with a barrage of missiles amid growing concerns it could carry out a seventh nuclear test.

Pyongyang has fired 63 ballistic missiles this year alone, including 8 intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Soldiers stand guard in the Joint Security Area of the truce village of Panmunjom between South and North Korea inside the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two Koreas, on Nov. 29, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Soldiers stand guard in the Joint Security Area of the truce village of Panmunjom between South and North Korea inside the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two Koreas, on Nov. 29, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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