South Korea's unification minister said Friday that the current situation provides a "golden opportunity" to achieve denuclearization and bring permanent peace to the Korean Peninsula.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon also voiced optimism about the outlook for implementation of the agreements reached by the leaders of the two Koreas during a summit held in late April at the truce village of Panmunjom.
"Now is the golden opportunity to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establish a peace regime," he told a forum held in Seoul. "We never know when such a chance would come again."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a joint declaration on April 27 in which they affirmed the goal of "complete" denuclearization of the peninsula and agreed to seek to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.
The historic inter-Korean summit, the third of its kind after ones in 2000 and 2007, will be followed by an unprecedented meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12. The South and the U.S. also plan to hold a summit in Washington on May 22.
"Sufficient time and momentum could not be maintained to enforce agreements reached in the previous (South-North) summits since they were held in the mid or late terms of each presidency," Cho said. "This time, it is very positive in terms of the possibility of implementation, since the summit was held in the early stages of the government."
He added, "In preparation for the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit, we will do our best to iron out any differences at various levels through dialogue between South Korea and the U.S., South and North Korea and South Korea and China."
With regard to the Moon-Trump summit, the minister said the two leaders are expected to discuss coordination to advance the current peace mood based on the achievements made through the recent inter-Korean summit and to exchange views on how to make the upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit a success.
Welcoming the recent release of three American detainees from North Korea, he said that the government will make active efforts to bring home its own citizens held in the northern neighbor as soon as possible.
According to the unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, six South Korean citizens, including three Christian missionaries, are being held in the North on charges of spying for South Korea's intelligence agency. (Yonhap News)