Hong Joon-pyo disclosed the alleged proposal, which was not mentioned even in Lee's memoir, published in January 2015, as part of efforts to underscore his point that President Moon Jae-in should not pursue a summit with the North without discussion on denuclearization.
Lee only said in his memoir that he didn't accept a North Korean offer to hold a summit in order to break away from the bad practice of the communist nation demanding economic aid in return for agreeing to hold such a meeting. There was no mention of the North's demand for recognition as a nuclear power.
"When the whole world is concerned about North Korea's nuclear weapons and human rights conditions, only our government is trying to be a spokesman of the North," Hong told reporters. "Many people are worried the Republic of Korea may collapse due to leftist forces."
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent his only sister to the South as part of a high-level delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and invited President Moon Jae-in, through a message conveyed by the sister, to visit the North for what would be a third inter-Korean summit.
Moon said in response he hopes the right conditions will be created so that the proposed visit can take place. The remark was seen as meaning that there should first be progress on efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff, such as talks between the United Sates and the North, before an inter-Korean summit takes place.
Conservative opposition parties and other critics have voiced concern that the South is playing into the North's hands, as the communist regime is using the charm offensive to undermine international sanctions against it.(Yonhap)