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President Roh, Order for Ahn’s Contact with the North is No Problem

President Roh, Order for Ahn’s Contact with the North is No Problem

Posted April. 11, 2007 07:57,   


“Since it was under my special direction, a prior report was not necessary. Politically or legally, there is no problem because giving directions is within the president’s duty,” said President Roh with regard to the issue of his close confidante Ahn Hee-jeong’s secret meeting with a North Korean official. While presiding on the State Council on April 10, the president dismissed politicians’ demand for a national apology before the public, saying that “the issue has not become so big that it requires a broad response.”

Members of the non-ruling parties - the Grand National Party (GNP), the Democratic Party and the Democratic Labor Party – criticized the president, however, saying that his inappropriate remarks ignored the law. The GNP is especially poised to push for a National Assembly investigation, and the controversy is expected to be escalated.

Regarding the transparency issue, the president claimed, “An important national decision with public interest needs a transparent decision process. This issue (Ahn’s meeting with a Pyongyang official) has nothing to do with transparency, so we don’t have anything to make public.”

His remarks were in contrast with those in his early days in office. When Kim Dae-jung administration’s secret payment to Pyongyang became controversial, the president stressed the importance of transparent inter-Korean relationship and accepted the special prosecutor’s investigation on the issue.

“Many people have suggested opening an unofficial dialogue channel with North Korea. Whenever the proposals were made, I checked the possibility and feasibility of each case. While checking its probability, I found that the recent channel was not appropriate, so I decided to stop it,” said the president.

“If a civilian contacts a North Korean in a third country, it can be a legal problem. But a later report is also possible. When there is no report afterward, we just give warnings. And this case doesn’t have a legal problem,” added the president.

Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Nam-sik said, “Mr. Ahn contacted a North Korean under the president’s guidance after consulting with the Unification Minister. According to the Exchange and Cooperation law, there is no problem.” The fact that his visit was under the president’s guideline is giving rise to more controversy.