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North and South Korea Met at the Beijing Belt and Road Forum

May 19, 2017 (EIRNS)—Hankyoreh, a liberal newspaper in South Korea, reported that the South Korean representative to the Beijing Belt and Road International Forum had a substantial meeting with the North Korean delegate to the forum—the first meeting between Seoul and Pyongyang since deposed President Park Geun-hye unilaterally shut down all economic and political contacts after the fourth North Korean nuclear test in January 2016.

The head of the South Korean delegations, Minjoo (Democratic) Party member of the National Assembly Park Byeong-seok, announced to Hankyoreh that he had met before the forum’s opening on the morning of May 14 with the head of the North Korean delegation, Minister of External Economic Relations Kim Yong-jae. "I met with Minister Kim, who had arrived beforehand, and we ended up having a conversation as a matter of course," Park said. Park said he had first expressed his government’s objection to the North Korean missile test which had taken place that morning, but then proceeded to spend "some time talking about various issues," as Hankyoreh put it.

Most importantly, Park said: "I got the sense that the North has some hopes for inter-Korean dialogue."

Park was cautious about predicting any talks right away, saying that "There are constraints when it comes to resuming dialogue," indicating that some indication of a willingness to freeze the nuclear and missile tests is necessary first.