Organizing an inter-Korean summit to take place before the end of the month appears increasingly challenging, Seoul’s Presidential Blue House admitted Monday, while not ruling out the possibility of a meeting between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae-in in the coming weeks.
The comments come in response to growing speculation in South Korea that the Moon administration will seek to hold another inter-Korean summit ahead of a planned visit by U.S. President Donald Trump to the peninsula at the end of June.
Last Friday saw multiple local outlets report a senior Blue House aide as having said Seoul was “cautiously optimistic” about prospects for diplomacy and another summit, which the South Korean President has repeatedly said he would be open to “regardless of venue.”
Monday’s comments appear to pour cold water on that optimism, at least in part.
“Realistically, it appears to be difficult for [an inter-Korean summit] to be held later this month, given the timing,” an unnamed Blue House official told multiple local outlets in comments carried by Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency.
“We cannot say for sure that an inter-Korean summit will not be held in late June,” they added, stressing that “negotiations can be immediately held once conditions are met.”
Such a meeting, should it go ahead, would be the sixth inter-Korean summit in history and the fourth between leaders Kim and Moon.
The two last met in Pyongyang in September, in talks which saw Kim Jong Un agree to, among other things, visit the South Korean capital “in the near future.”
But the two met prior to that for a surprise second summit at the Panmunjom peace village on the inter-Korean border in May, in an impromptu round of talks which some have speculated could be repeated in the coming weeks.
South Korea has in the past month, too, framed another inter-Korean summit as a possible means to restore momentum to a now-months-long delay in DPRK-U.S. diplomacy in the wake of February’s no-deal Kim-Trump meeting in Hanoi.
“It is very important that North Korea and the U.S. have another summit… and this was why President [Moon] proposed an inter-Korean summit,” unification minister Kim Yeon-chul said in an interview with KBS TV.
“For the time being, however, it is difficult to be either positive or negative,” about prospects for another summit, he cautioned.
Edited by James Fretwell
Featured image: Pyeongyang Press Corps