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GNP leader issues gag order on NK visit issue

Posted August. 16, 2000 20:41,   


The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) president Lee Hoi-Chang ordered his party members on August 16 to keep silent in connection with North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-Il`s reported willingness to invite him to Pyongyang.

Noting that he has not received any official liaison from the government or North Korea, the opposition leader said that, for the present, it is not the time to make an official comment on the matter. He added that he would clarify his position, if only through his party spokesman.

It seems that Rep. Lee may have judged that premature debates on his North Korean visit would cause confusion in his party`s inter-Korean policies, and in actuality, there are varying views among the party members over the sensitive question. Some GNP members assert that the GNP should take a more positive stance toward inter-Korean problems, but conservatives are opposed to his visit to Pyongyang, on the grounds that this would just follow in the steps of President Kim Dae-Jung. Although the GNP president has not bared his true intentions on the issue, he is expected to positively consider a North Korean visit, as more time passes. Earlier, Lee said that he was ready to meet anyone, if it was helpful for unification and settlement of peace as well as for the interests of the nation and his party.

Some related party officials said that Lee`s visit to Pyongyang would be realized only when his requests for a one-on-one meeting with the North Korean leader and implementation of additional exchanges of dispersed families were met.