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Unification minister's rare trip with President shows Moon's determination for inter
  来源:苹果蓝号检测  更新时间:2024-06-16 23:55:24
Unification Minister Lee In-young speaks during a parliamentary audit of the ministry at the National Assembly in Seoul,<strong></strong> Oct. 21. Korea Times photo
Unification Minister Lee In-young speaks during a parliamentary audit of the ministry at the National Assembly in Seoul, Oct. 21. Korea Times photo

Moon departs for Europe for meeting with pope, attending G20, COP26

By Kang Seung-woo

Unification Minister Lee In-young will be participating in President Moon Jae-in's overseas trip, in a rare move during which he is expected to play a role in promoting peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, according to diplomatic observers.

Moon departed for Italy, Thursday, where he is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis and attend the G20 summit. Following this, the President will travel to the U.K. for the COP26 United Nations Climate Summit and visit Hungary afterward.

As Moon is scheduled to visit the Vatican, Friday (local time), Lee is expected to talk with officials there about a possible visit to North Korea by the pope.

Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his willingness to visit Pyongyang, which could help restart inter-Korean talks. A papal trip to North Korea has been put on the backburner since the 2019 Hanoi summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then-U.S. President Donald Trump ended without a deal on denuclearization.

Along with the Vatican visit, the unification minister is expected to meet with the heads of international organizations to discuss issues regarding North Korea as part of President Moon's efforts to improve inter-Korean ties.

The Lee visit comes as relations between South and North Korea are at an inflection point following President Moon's proposal for a formal declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War. To this end, the government has stepped up its efforts to seek cooperation from neighboring and relevant countries, including the United States and China.

Currently, South Korea and the U.S. have held discussions on the "end-of-war" issue even though the two sides have differing perspectives on the matter.

Hong Min, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said Lee's visit carries weight given that it will seek to bolster the Moon administration's push for the declaration and an improvement in inter-Korean relations.

"A large number of headquarters of international organizations are based in Europe and Europe has a bigger say in the U.N., so we need to gain support from European countries," Hong said.

In response to North Korea's recent missile tests, key European countries such as Germany and France issued a warning against the totalitarian state for its provocations ratcheting up tensions in the region.

"Under the circumstances, the unification minister's visit is also aimed at explaining the government's Korean Peninsula peace process from its perspective to the European nations," Hong said.

Hong also said South Korea's appeal to Europe may play a positive role in appealing to North Korea given that the North maintains diplomatic ties with several European countries.

"The Europe tour can provide an indication that the Moon administration is working hard on talks and cooperation with North Korea, which is significant," he said.

Meanwhile, President Moon plans to discuss with other world leaders ways to tackle the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic at the G20 summit, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

After Italy, Moon will fly to Glasgow, Scotland, to attend the COP26, slated for Monday and Tuesday.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be high on the agenda at the U.N. climate talks, where Moon will deliver a speech. Earlier this month, Moon finalized a decision for South Korea to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2018 levels by 2030, sharply raising its previous goal, as part of efforts to curb the pace of climate change.



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