May 13, 2017 6:54 am JST

Seoul, Pyongyang envoys may talk at Belt and Road Forum

China gives South Korea late invite in potential thawing under Moon

KENICHI YAMADA, Nikkei staff writer

SEOUL -- A South Korean delegation to the two-day Belt and Road Forum in Beijing that starts Sunday could meet with representatives from North Korea.

The delegation led by Park Byeong-seug, a former deputy speaker of the South's National Assembly, may enter China as early as Saturday. Park said that representatives from the two Koreas are scheduled to be at the forum simultaneously for an entire day, providing a natural opportunity to speak.

North Korea's delegation will be headed by Kim Yong Jae, the country's minister for external economic relations, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

Such a meeting would be the first high-level exchange between the two Koreas under new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who took office Wednesday.

China's Belt and Road Initiative aims to create trade links spanning Asia, Europe and Africa. South Korea was not among the several dozen countries initially invited to the forum, due to Chinese concerns over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile shield in the South. But Beijing seems to be softening its attitude, as Moon has questioned his predecessor's decision to install THAAD.

Park also said that South Korean and Chinese representatives would meet on the sidelines of the forum, according to Yonhap. The two sides could discuss the THAAD deployment, as well as Chinese economic retaliation over the decision.

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