South Korean leader calls for firmer line on Pyongyang

March 26th, 2008 - 10:03 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Moscow, March 26 (RIA Novosti) South Korea’s president Wednesday urged North Korea to cooperate on the issue of repatriating prisoners of war and those abducted, and to speed up denuclearisation efforts, Yonhap news agency said. Conservative leader Lee Myung-bak, who came to power last month after his election victory late last year, has repeatedly said he plans to seek more in return from Pyongyang for South Korea’s generous subsidies.

In a policy briefing session of the unification ministry, Lee said: “We’ll keep up the shipment of humanitarian aid to North Korea regardless of the nuclear issue… In return, however, the North should also become more serious about resolving the problems associated with South Korean prisoners of war, abducted and separated families.”

The fate of many of the 1,000 South Koreans abducted by the North during the 1950-1953 Korean War remains unknown.

Lee also urged North Korea to completely abandon its nuclear programme to pave the way for inter-Korean peace and closer economic cooperation.

“North Korea’s leadership has to realize that the settlement of its nuclear problem would be truly helpful to inter-Korean economic cooperation and unification. The North will only be able to stabilize its regime, maintain peace and achieve economic prosperity when it gives up its nuclear programme,” the agency quoted Lee as saying.

Under an agreement reached last October between the US, Japan, Russia, China, North and South Korea, Pyongyang was to halt its nuclear programmes and provide full information on nuclear activities by the end of 2007 in exchange for economic and political concessions.

But the communist country missed the deadline to fulfil its promises, stalling the six-party negotiations.

However, since the October deal, South Korea, China and Russia have each supplied North Korea with 50,000 metric tons of fuel oil.
RIA Novosti

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