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Ahn vows closer cooperation with N. Korea to promote peace

  Independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo vowed to seek closer dialogue and cooperation with North Korea as he announced his first official set of election pledges on Sunday.

   "Upon the basis of firm security, I will facilitate peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and cooperation between the South and the North," the computer technology mogul-turned-politician said in a news conference held at his election camp in central Seoul.

   The independent candidate, neck-and-neck with the two other leading candidates in recent popularity ratings, also said he will continue to urge the North's nuclear disarmament, if he becomes South Korea's president in the December presidential election.

   He will also seek parliamentary approval before putting any inter-Korean agreements into force, Ahn said, indicating his willingness to maintain consistency in North Korean policies despite changes in leadership.

   The 50-year-old candidate, who has won a large following with his nonpartisan, common-sense policy line, also pledged to "launch a political reform in order to change the current political system which fails to reflect public opinions."

   Ahn expressed his willingness to root out irregularities by public officials, vowing to set up a stand-alone agency to investigate corruption cases involving public servants.

   Pardons granted by the president would also be made subject to parliamentary approval, he said, adding the number of public positions appointed by president will be drastically cut, if he wins the election.

Meanwhile, Kim Sung-sik, a former one-term lawmaker previously affiliated with the conservative Saenuri Party, said he will join Ahn's election camp.

(Yonhap News)

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