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South Korea's new unification minister meets with top Chinese envoy

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea's new unification minister meets with top Chinese envoy
Kim Yeon-chul, former head of the Korea Institute for National Unification, is conducting unification diplomacy with key countries. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

April 17 (UPI) -- South Korea's new unification minister met with China's ambassador to Seoul on Wednesday and expressed hopes for cooperation.

Kim Yeon-chul, a former think tank chief who has replaced former minister Cho Myoung-gyon, met with Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong and called for close cooperation with Beijing, Yonhap reported.

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"We would like close cooperation between [South] Korea and China for peace and common prosperity on the Korean Peninsula," Kim said.

The meeting with the top Chinese envoy to Seoul comes after Kim met with U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris, according to the report.

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During discussions with Qiu, Kim mentioned the Chinese ambassador attended a ceremony in December for an inter-Korean railroad in Kaesong, North Korea.

Kim said he was "impressed" when Qiu said at the ceremony he wished to travel from Seoul to Beijing by train. The Chinese envoy said South Korean President Moon Jae-in has "poured efforts" into promoting reconciliation between North and South Korea.

Kim also met with Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Yasumasa Nagamine, according to the report.

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Moon recently returned from a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Following the meeting, Kim Jong Un suggested he is interested in a third summit with the United States, and gave Washington an end-of-year deadline on nuclear talks.

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Trump has defended economic sanctions against Pyongyang but has said he supports civic or humanitarian exchange with North Korea.

South Korean news service Tongil News reported Wednesday the United Nations North Korea sanctions committee agreed to exempt archaeological expeditions from embargoes.

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The exemption was made public on Tuesday.

On Wednesday Seoul's unification ministry said the exemption applies to machinery used for digging at the Manwoldae site in Kaesong, North Korea.

Ancient artifacts dating back to a medieval dynasty have been found at the site by joint excavation teams.

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