South Korea's new unification minister said Thursday the Yoon Suk Yeol administration will "never" seek the declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, saying the move would hamper the resolution of the issue of abductees and detainees in North Korea.
In his first official schedule since the inauguration, Kim Yung-ho made the remarks during a meeting with chiefs of civic groups dedicated to addressing the long-pending issue and a family member of a South Korean pastor detained in the reclusive country.
"What I can clearly say is that conditions for the end-of-war declaration have not been met. If such a declaration is carried out, the issue of abductees, prisoners of war and detainees in the North will be overshadowed," he said.
"I can promise that the Yoon Suk Yeol administration will never pursue the end-of-war declaration," Kim said.
The former liberal government of President Moon Jae-in was supportive of such a declaration, as it regarded it as the first step of what could be a long process toward a peace treaty. The two Koreas technically remain at war, as the Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
But President Yoon has been critical of it, saying in June that "anti-state forces" had significantly undermined South Korea's security by begging for the lifting of U.N. sanctions on the North and pushing for an end-of-war declaration with Pyongyang.
At Thursday's meeting, Kim stressed the government's "firm" stance to make efforts to resolve the issue of those detained in the North.
"The issue is a matter of human rights of South Korean nationals abused by North Korea," he said.
Kim took office as South Korea's new point man on unification Friday, with a pledge to pursue a principle-based inter-Korean policy amid frozen ties with North Korea caused by Pyongyang's provocations. He is a conservative professor known to be a vocal advocate of human rights.
Since 2013, six South Koreans, including three pastors, have been detained in North Korea on charges of committing what the North called anti-North Korea crimes.
Source: Yonhap News Agency