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Minister nominee raises need to explore various ways for N.K. diplomacy

23:40 March 22, 2019

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Unification minister nominee Kim Yeon-chul on Friday raised the need to seek various ways to facilitate nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, including sending a special envoy to North Korea.

In his written answers to questions from the National Assembly's foreign affairs committee ahead of his confirmation hearing, Kim also said that Seoul's role in diplomacy with Pyongyang has become more important amid concerns about a possible deadlock in the negotiations.

On Friday, Pyongyang abruptly pulled out its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North's border city of Kaesong, casting a pall over the prospects of cross-border cooperation projects and the nuclear talks between it and Washington.

"In order to stably manage the situation on the peninsula through inter-Korean dialogue and facilitate North Korea-U.S. negotiations, we need to seek various ways," Kim wrote in the document.

He refused to mention who should be chosen as the special envoy to the North.

"I call for your understanding as it is difficult to talk about the concrete time and person," he said.

Commenting on the issue of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's possible visit to Seoul to reciprocate President Moon Jae-in's trip to Pyongyang last September, he said it could serve as an opportunity for a turning point for improvement in inter-Korean relations and the establishment of peace on the peninsula.

Kim also cast the pursuit of the resumption of two stalled inter-Korean projects -- the tours to Mount Kumgang and an inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong -- as mutually beneficial ones that would facilitate the North's denuclearization by showing the prospects of a bright future.

But he said that South Korea should consider the possibility of resuming the projects in close cooperation with the international community, including the United States, within the framework of the global sanctions regime.
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