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Rival parties differ over president’s Dokdo visit

Political parties differed Friday over the first-ever visit by a Korean president to Dokdo.

The ruling Saenuri Party praised the visit saying it was “meaningful by showing the Republic of Korea’s determination to protect its territory.”

The main opposition Democratic United Party expressed caution and undermined the visit by demanding that pending issues such as the demand for Tokyo’s compensation for crimes during the colonial period should be prioritized instead.

The parties’ mixed responses came as President Lee Myung-bak planned the epochal presidential visit to the easternmost islets, which Tokyo has been attempting to challenge the sovereignty.

“It is a situation where Japan is announcing its defense white paper with Dokdo written as its territory for the eight consecutive years, not to mention distorting the facts in their history textbooks,” said Saenuri spokesman Hong Il-pyo.

“We should gather our determination as the people of the Republic of Korea to protect our land by not faltering before any kind of challenge from Japan,” he said.

The party, however, denied there being any prior consultation on the visit with Cheong Wa Dae.

DUP spokesman Park Yong-jin, meanwhile, said, “Despite the significance of the first-ever visit by an incumbent president to Dokdo, the president should not try to cover up the public’s outrage over the government’s attempt to pass the military information pact with Japan with this Dokdo event.”

DUP Supreme Councilor Rep. Woo Sang-ho expressed concern.

“While we need to sternly counter any provocation, it is questionable whether making (Dokdo) an international issue and a diplomatic conflict as intended by Japan would be in our national interest,” Woo said.

By Lee Joo-hee (