SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea's top domestic affairs official said Seoul will try to facilitate a civilian exchange with North Korea in the coming months to strengthen the mediation process between rivals.
Reunification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the strengthened relations between the Koreas would increase the chances of successful nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang.
"(Our) government will communicate and cooperate closely with North Korea and the United States, all our neighboring countries, and the entire international community so that the North Korea to the United States agreements can be implemented quickly and fully," Cho said a Seoul forum hosted by its ministry and the South Korean news agency Yonhap. "As the denuclearization negotiations continue, we can try to facilitate negotiations with the efforts of the inter-Korean level, if such an approach is needed."
Cho said Seoul will make efforts to facilitate intra-Korean exchanges and local government levels so that "people from all walks of life and layers of society" can intervene in the mediation process. He said Seoul will also seek to promote exchanges between South Korean news organizations and North Korean state media. Cho feared that the improvement in relations would be accompanied by relaxation of sanctions and pressure on North Korea. Progress in inter-Korean projects will depend on whether appropriate "conditions are created."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in He said progress in inter-Korean relations was crucial because the North would not give up its nuclear program if it did not feel safe.
Moon met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April and May, and their summits opened various channels of peace talks, including ongoing military talks to reduce border tension, Red Cross talks organizing temporary meetings between war-related relatives, and sports talks. which led to an agreement on combined teams at the Asian Games in August. Kim met with President Donald Trump earlier this month in Singapore, where they formulated an ambitious goal for a nascent Korean peninsula without describing when and how it would happen. It is expected that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will soon travel to North Korea for further talks.
Cho said that plans are underway between Pompeo and high-ranking North Korean officials for a "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" and a security guarantee for North Korea, "which would help the war opponents to initiate a genuine peace process."