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Roh Stressed the Nation Should Make Efforts to Increase Its Ability to Defend Itself.

Roh Stressed the Nation Should Make Efforts to Increase Its Ability to Defend Itself.

Posted August. 15, 2003 21:36,   


President Roh Moo-hyun said Friday, “During my remaining term in office, I intend to help lay a firm foundation to enable our armed forces to be fully equipped with self-reliant national defense capabilities within the next 10 years.” Stressing the need for the nation to take responsibility for its own defense, he said, “Considering that the nation has a 55-year old government and is the world`s twelfth largest economy, it is time for the nation to take the lead in defending its security.”

During a congratulatory speech marking the 58th Liberation Day at the Independence Hall in Chonan, South Chungchong Province, he said, “Our military capability for gathering information and carrying out operations must become so enhanced as to defend our country on our own.”

“Although US forces stationed in Korea have been safeguarding freedom and peace in this land until today, it’s wrong to depend forever on the US for our national security. In the past, whenever US security strategies changed, it greatly affected our national security. We should not repeat the past experience when it comes to our national security and blindly oppose a withdrawal of US forces from the country,” he added.

Regarding the controversial realignment of U.S. forces stationed in South Korea, he said, “The envisioned relocation of the U.S. Yongsan base will be made at the earliest possible date.” He went on to say that the proposed redeployment of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division and overall realignment should take into consideration the North Korean nuclear situation and other security issues surrounding the Korean peninsula. “I will closely consult with U.S. President George W. Bush about the appropriate timing of any action,” he said.

On North Korea’s nuclear issue, he said, “Nuclear weapons can never serve as a guarantee of security. They are just a source of calamity, bringing isolation and crisis. If the North gives up nuclear weapons, we will take the lead in developing its economy and, in cooperation with neighboring countries, lure international organizations and funds (to North Korea).”

On the economic front, President Roh stressed the need of achieving 20,000 dollars of the nation`s per capita income within 10 years. To achieve this goal, he proposed measures to address pressing issues, such as labor-management conflicts, market reforms, enhanced national competitiveness, stabilization of real estate prices, free trade agreements, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and youth unemployment.

Meanwhile, Park Jin, a spokesman for the opposition Grand National Party, criticized the president saying, “It is regrettable for the president to present only rosy outlooks on our national security, ignoring the reality of the Korean Peninsula. The president’s speech demonstrated his mistaken views on national security.”

Jeong-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com