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Lee vows efforts for peace, co-prosperity on peninsula

President Lee Myung-bak reaffirmed Friday that his administration will endeavor to bring lasting peace and co-prosperity with North Korea at an annual defense meeting attended by top military commanders and senior government officials, according to his office Cheong Wa Dae.

   Lee stressed that such efforts should be buttressed by enhanced public awareness on national security, it added.

   "Peace can be maintained (on the peninsula) only when we deter North Korea's provocations through perception of national security and North Korea abandons a thought to gain something through ideological conflicts in the South," Lee was quoted as saying by his spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung.

   At a press briefing, Kim quoted Lee as saying, "The government will make constant efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula and co-prosperity (with the North)."

    Lee attributed South Korea's development under the grim reality of living with the belligerent North to joint efforts by the government, the military and the civilian sector, she added.

   In the meeting, meanwhile, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik raised worries that North Korea may renew military provocations, given its diplomatic isolation and dire economic trouble.

   "North Korea is not showing a responsible attitude yet," Kim said. "Seeing the situation in North Korea, there is a chance of its military provoking again. So, (the military) should be fully prepared."

   Seoul took bitter lessons from Pyongyang's deadly attacks on a South Korean warship in March last year and a western border island eight months later, he added.

   To effectively address North Korean provocations like the Nov. 23 artillery strike of Yeonpyeong Island, military leaders and provincial governors proposed holding a nationwide joint civilian-military defense drill, said a military official who attended the meeting.

   Currently, two civil defense drills are separately carried out by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the National Emergency Management Agency. The military also conducts its own defense drills. (Yonhap News)

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