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President Stresses Closer Economic Ties Between Two Koreas

President Stresses Closer Economic Ties Between Two Koreas

Posted August. 15, 2007 07:17,   


There is mounting criticism over the government being too passive in placing North Korea’s nuclear issue on the agenda of the second inter-Korean summit. Against this backdrop, a controversy is heating up as President Roh Moo-hyun expressed his will to discuss economic cooperation between the two Koreas on top of the summit’s agenda.

With regard to the inter-Korean summit meeting, President Roh said yesterday that what matters most in securing peace on the Korean Peninsula is economic interdependence between the South and North, while saying that issues such as North Korea’s nuclear program are crucial as well.

Presiding over a State Council meeting, the president said. “What counts most for bringing peace on the Korean Peninsula is taking economic cooperation to the next level and establishing a framework for inter-Korean economic cooperation, which the government will continue to work on.”

His remarks could be interpreted as developing four key points, namely, denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, peace, arms control, economic cooperation, suggested by the National Security Council (NSC), which announced the plan for the summit on August 8.

They are also in line with a briefing by the Cheong Wa Dae on August 10. According to the briefing, closer economic ties between Seoul and Pyongyang would be a long-term investment for security and peace and expedite the process of bringing peace.

The government has separated measures to expand economic cooperation with the six-way talks for a while.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Cheon Ho-seon said in a briefing, “North Korea’s nuclear issue should be handled within the framework of the six-party talks, while economic cooperation can be advanced between the South and North. Six-way talks have their own objectives and challenges, and the summit has a role different from the nuclear talks. The two should not clash and interfere with one another.”

Analysts say that the inter-Korean summit has a limitation to resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue, which has been discussed within the multilateral framework of the six-party talks.

Former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, a presidential hopeful in the ruling camp, said in an interview with CBS radio yesterday that the two sides can exchange ideas on the nuclear issue, but the issue is already being considered in the six-party talks, and hence there is no need to talk about it at the upcoming summit.

Senior researcher Kim Yeong-yun at the Korea Institute for National Unification said in his contribution to “National Briefing” that pressuring the president to link economic cooperation with the nuclear issue is unrealistic and unlikely to succeed, and that North Korea’s nuclear issue should be dealt with by the U.S. withdrawing its hostile policy toward the North and improving its relationship with the communist country.