"If the summit between the leaders of South and North Korea will be a help in persuading the North to give up its nuclear programs and improve South-North Korean relations, I can meet him anytime," Lee told reporters.

 

The two previous Korean summits, in October last year and in 2000, took place in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

 

Lee also stressed the need to bolster ties with the United States, saying that would also help develop relations between the two Koreas.

 

The administration of Roh Moo-hyun, the outgoing president, has had awkward relations with Washington, with differences in particular over Seoul's policy of engagement with North Korea.

 

The two Koreas have improved relations since their leaders met for their first summit in 2000, and the South is now North Korea's number two trade partner after communist ally China.