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Pres. Lee Says N. Korean Politics Are `Highly Fluid`

Posted September. 12, 2009 03:40,   


President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday, “North Korea is pursuing a two-pronged policy of offering goodwill gestures and pushing its uranium enrichment program. This shows that the North’s political situation is highly fluid.”

He said this at a meeting of foreign affairs and national security officials, including Han Seung-joo, president of the Korean-American Association.

“This situation can provide a turning point in resolving North Korean nuclear issues,” President Lee said.

His comment on Pyongyang’s situation has several implications, according to experts.

First, he believes that North Korea has no choice but to make reconciliatory gestures to overcome its economic difficulty. The communist country reportedly wants to hold high-level bilateral talks to resume tours to Mount Kumgang before the reunions of separated families over the Chuseok holidays next month.

For the same reason, the North recently withheld its demand for wage hikes for North Korean workers in the Kaesong industrial complex to 300 dollars and instead suggested a raise of five percent, experts said.

Pyongyang is hard pressed to achieve its goal of making the country a strong nation by 2012. Worse, its political situation is unstable due to leader Kim Jong Il’s alleged health problem, power transfer to his youngest son Jong Un, and conflict between moderates and hardliners.

The U.S. and South Korea, however, are as united as possible in dealing with North Korea.

Under this understanding, President Lee believes that if he handles the North’s issues in a flexible but resolute manner, a historical milestone can be achieved, according to experts.

In this context, he said, “The two Koreas are facing turbulent times but inter-Korean relations have reached a critical turning point,” adding, “We should devise forward-looking policies that can receive praise from further generations.”

“We have given compensation to the North at every negotiation stage but when the situation deteriorates, we used to return to the starting point. I will make a clear break with such practices.”

The president is said to be devising a “grand design” to dramatically improve North Korea’s economy in cooperation with the international community if the North gives up its nuclear program.