UPDATE : 2019.7.22 MON 10:50
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S. Korea telling N.K. it's necessary to hold summit ahead of Trump visit: minister

South Korea has told North Korea that it is possible and necessary to hold an inter-Korean summit ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's planned visit to Seoul later this month, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said Friday.

Kim made the remark during a closed meeting with lawmakers in Seoul, referring to the case of the May summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which took place shortly after Kim first proposed it, according to Rep. Kim Han-jung of the ruling Democratic Party.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul speaks during a press briefing at the government complex in Seoul on June 19, 2019.

"We are sending the message to North Korea that it is not physically impossible, and that it is necessary and desirable," the minister was quoted as saying.

Yet, he said there has been no contact between the two as of now to prepare for such a summit. The minister said the two Koreas' liaison officers are in contact as usual.

Moon earlier expressed hope for meeting with the North Korean leader ahead of Trump's visit to South Korea at the end of this month.

Regarding U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun's recent remark on the "need for a flexible approach," the minister said it could be a sign that Washington's stance has changed since the collapse of the Hanoi summit.

Earlier, the minister said that he expects a series of summit meetings taking place in the region to serve as an opportunity to advance the stalled nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the U.S.

Kim said eyes are on the results of this week's summit between North Korean leader Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping as their previous meetings have played "meaningful roles" every time the negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang hit a wall.

Xi was set to return home Friday after a two-day state visit to North Korea, which marked the first time for a Chinese head of state to visit the North in 14 years.

During their summit on Thursday, Xi vowed to play a "positive and constructive" role in realizing the denuclearization of the peninsula, according to Chinese state media.

Xi is also planning to meet with Trump on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Japan's Osaka next week.

The minister said these meetings will be a "crucial process in making necessary conditions to resume the negotiations," which have made little headway since the February collapse of the second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi.

The government will use this opportunity to further boost communications with our neighboring countries, including the U.S. and China, and try hard with patience to make sure the peninsula's denuclearization and peace process can move forward again," the minister said.(Yonhap)

Lee Kyung Sik  edt@koreapost.com

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