Seoul's unification minister sat down with the top U.S. diplomat in South Korea on Tuesday, and suggested upgrading the so-called working group between the allies to facilitate improvements in inter-Korean relations.
During his first meeting with U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris, Minister Lee In-young stressed the need for a readjustment.
"By doing so, we will be able to dismiss concerns the working group hinders inter-Korean relations. This, ultimately is, upgrading the South Korea-U.S. working group to 2.0."
The proposal comes as the entity coordinating Pyeongyang-related issues has been under fire from South Korean liberal politicians and activists for allegedly holding up progress in inter-Korean ties due to excessively harsh standards adopted on the regime.
Many have called for it to be restructured or dismantled.
Minister Lee also asked for continued cooperation with Ambassador Harris in ushering in a new era for the working group 2.0.
Harris expressed support for inter-Korean cooperation.
"As a closest friend and ally of the ROK, the U.S. strongly supports inter-Korean cooperation and finding ways to do so through the working group, as this plays an important role in creating a more secure and stable environment on peninsula."
Regarding Lee's proposal, the U.S. State Department explained Tuesday that the allies exert diplomatic efforts on a regular basis and coordinate issues on international sanctions on North Korea as well as inter-Korean cooperation.
While such a remark, made in response to a written inquiry by Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency, is not a direct comment on the latest proposal, it can be interpreted as one that reaffirms the fundamental role of the Seoul-Washington working group, established in late 2018.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.