Gov't urged to OK joint inter-Korean event for 2000 summit

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- An association of progressive civic groups called on the government Thursday to allow holding a joint event with North Korea to mark the 13th anniversary of a landmark South-North summit in 2000, saying the event could help pave the way for inter-Korean dialogue.

Pyongyang has invited a South Korean civic group, who promotes the implementation of the June 15 South-Korean Declaration, to North Korea to jointly celebrate the inter-Korean agreement signed in a summit in 2000 between late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and late liberal-minded President Kim Dae-jung. The declaration, which calls for promotion of joint inter-Korean efforts for economic cooperation and peace, had heralded a conciliatory mood on the peninsula.

The South Korean government, however, has repeatedly refused to give consent to the South Korean group's contact with the North, indicating such civil-level contact with the North is not permissible under the current frosty inter-Korean relations.

"Opening the road to peace between the South and the North is a grave question to be solved at any cost," the Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement said in a rally held in front of the central government office building in central Seoul earlier in the day. "Seoul should guarantee the civic-level arrangement of the joint June 15 event."

The groups also condemned the collapse of inter-Korean attempts to hold the much-anticipated talks, calling on the South's government to revive efforts to negotiate with the North.

"South and North Korea turned away their faces from people's expectations for the resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Mt. Kumgang tour program and reunions of separated families when they aborted the plan to hold talks," they said. "It constitutes an act of treachery against Korean people," they said.

"The South Korean government should try again with sincerity to hold talks in order to bring in a peaceful mood to the Korean Peninsula," according to them.

The calls followed the cancellation of the countries' agreement to hold two-day, high-level talks scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. The talks were canceled on the eve of the planned meeting, as the two parties failed to agree upon the ranks of chief negotiators to be sent from each country.

The talks, the first in six years if held as scheduled, would have been expected to allay tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which escalated following the North's December missile technology test and a nuclear bomb detonation test on Feb. 12.

About 40 activists from the association attempted to hold a street parade, but police blocked their marching.

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