UPDATE : 2019.9.20 FRI 11:25
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Resumption of joint projects with N.K. to hinge on denuclearization: Seoul

South Korea said Tuesday that it would push to resume its joint industrial park and tour program with North Korea only in step with the resolution of the North's nuclear standoff.

Seoul's reaffirmation came amid growing attention to whether Seoul would try to reopen reconciliatory projects with North Korea as it said Monday that it will flexibly review the resumption of civilian exchanges.

"(The resumption) of those projects would be pushed for as a long-term (goal)," said an official at the Ministry of Unification. "There are conditions attached -- the resolution of North Korea's nuclear problems."

The ministry said it plans to resume civilian inter-Korean exchange to an extent that the move would not compromise the international sanctions regime.

"South Korea will sternly respond to North Korea's provocations, but it also does not think that long-strained inter-Korean ties will help stability on the divided peninsula," the government said.

But the issue of resuming the Kaesong Industrial Complex and a joint tour program at Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast could spark a dispute over whether it violates U.N. sanctions resolutions that ban the transfer of large amounts of money.

In February 2016, Seoul closed down the industrial complex in response to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests earlier in the year. In July 2008, it suspended the tour project after a South Korean woman was killed by a North Korean soldier at the mountain resort.

Meanwhile, the official said the government plans to review whether to approve a civic group's bid to prepare for a joint event to mark an inter-Korea summit anniversary in consideration of the sanctions regime.

The group is known to be seeking to hold a celebratory event in North Korea to mark the first inter-Korean summit held on June 15, 2000. South Koreans' contacts with North Korea or visit to the North requires the government's approval.

Since liberal President Moon Jae-in took office earlier this month, expectations for better inter-Korean relations have risen as he would seek engagement with North Korea.

In 2000, then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-il held a historic summit in Pyongyang, producing a landmark agreement on reconciliation and economic cooperation between the two rival Koreas.

During the liberal administration of President Roh Moo-hyun in 2003-2008, civic groups held summit anniversary events in Seoul and Pyongyang. (Yonhap)

Lee Sung-won  edt@koreapost.com

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