South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Monday rejected concerns about Seoul's alleged move to ease international sanctions on Pyongyang, saying it is seeking an "exception" to facilitate cross-border exchanges.
Kang made the remarks upon arrival from her visit to the United States, amid media speculation that she stressed the need for an easing of the sanctions during her meetings with the U.N. Security Council member states.
"Now is not a phase when sanctions are being eased. ... It is not an easing of sanctions," the minister said. "(What I stressed) was to get exceptions from the sanctions, which are needed for inter-Korean projects."
Since early this year, concerns have persisted that Seoul's push for an increase in cross-border exchanges could contribute to an unraveling of the sanctions regime, which analysts said has helped Pyongyang change its calculus on its nuclear program.
Asked about whether her visit to the U.S. this time was aimed at playing a role as an intermediary between Washington and Pyongyang, Kang stressed the importance of communication between the allies.
"Given that the talks between the North and the U.S., and between the two Koreas should go together, it is important to ensure communication (between Seoul and Washington) so that (these talks) are mutually reinforcing," she said.
When asked whether the leaders of the two Koreas and the U.S. would seek to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War during their possible meeting on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in September, Kang said that it is difficult to talk about exactly when that would happen.
Both Seoul and Pyongyang have been pursuing the formal end to the conflict, which ended only with a truce, within this year, while Washington reportedly wants that to occur following the North's tangible steps toward denuclearization. (yonhap)