N. Korea demands full-scale cross-border cooperation without outside meddling

SEOUL. KAZINFORM - North Korean propaganda outlets ramped up calls for full-scale economic cooperation with South Korea on Tuesday, saying that outside intervention should not stand in the way of cross-border exchanges, Yonhap reports.

The North has been making near-daily appeals for full-fledged cooperation and exchanges with South Korea since leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's Day address that he wants to restart two lucrative cross-border economic cooperation projects.

"Outside meddling and intervention that blocks our people's reconciliation, unity and unification should never be tolerated," Meari, a propaganda outlet, said in an article.

"If what was suggested in North-South declarations are carried out as such, we will be able to expand and advance cooperation and exchanges between the North and the South as much as we wish and actively promote reconciliation and unity among our people," it added, referring to agreements reached during three inter-Korean summits last year.

Another propaganda outlet, DPRK Today, called on the Koreas to work for peace and prosperity on their own, fighting off any outside intervention and meddling attempts.

"Our people's reconciliation, unity, peace and prosperity are not something that somebody else would present to us, nor are they something that can be realized with approval or help from somebody else," it said. "Only when our people, the owners of these things, work together and make our own efforts will they be realized."

They did not mention any specific cross-border projects they want to push for but apparently pointed to the resumption of the suspended inter-Korean industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong and a tour program to Mount Kumgang on the North's east coast.

The Koreas agreed at a summit in September to "normalize" their operations as early as possible.

The Kaesong factory park came to a halt in 2016 after North Korea carried out nuclear and missile tests. The tour program to the scenic mountain was suspended in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was killed by a North Korean guard.

Global sanctions remain an issue that needs to be resolved before moving to resume their operations. Washington is wary of Seoul going faster in its push for economic cooperation with the North than progress in denuclearization talks.

Last week, the U.S. and North Korea agreed to hold their second summit in late February to break the impasse since their first summit in June. The two held working-level negotiations for three days until Monday in Stockholm apparently to prepare for the upcoming summit, including setting the agenda for the high-stakes meeting.

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