Posted September. 02, 2009 04:59,
A North Korean delegation that visited Seoul to honor the late former President Kim Dae-jung late last month first proposed the release of four South Korean crew members aboard a detained fishing boat, a source said yesterday.
A senior official of the ruling camp said the delegation`s leader Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the Norths ruling Workers` Party, offered the release of the crew and ship with a very polite attitude at a meeting with President Lee Myung-bak.
After the meeting, the South Korean presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae said no discussion took place on specific issues, including the release of the boat.
President Lee reportedly responded by telling the North`s delegates that Pyongyang should make a fair decision under international law rather than try to do the South a favor. This comment seems to have prevented the delegation from making demands in return for the release.
The president stressed that the delegates should clearly convey his message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that the Lee administration differs from its predecessors. President Lee said his government will adhere to principles but stay flexible on inter-Korean matters, unlike previous governments, which drew flack for being either too tough or too soft on the North.
President Lee is said to have emphasized several times in a soft tone that Pyongyang must decide whether to abandon its nuclear program to normalize relations with the South. He also reportedly asked Kim Ki Nam through his staff to inform him of Kim Jong Ils response to the meeting`s results.