Published : 2013-08-21 20:50
Updated : 2013-08-21 20:50
The lack of trust between South and North Korea effectively serves as a chance to push for the creation of a new cross-border order, Seoul's unification minister said Wednesday.
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae made the remark during his press briefing held in Seoul to outline the concept of the so-called Trust-building Process on the Korean Peninsula.
As President Park Geun-hye's signature policy towards the North, the process "adopts a two-track approach of dialogue and pressure through which the two Koreas will be able to build and regain trust," Ryoo said.
"As you know, the two Koreas harbor a high level of distrust. In some sense, we can say that no trust exists. It is even on a negative level. Paradoxically, however, I think now is high time for us to take the lead for setting a new order based upon trust," the policymaker said.
As one of her key campaign pledges, Park has called for the two Koreas to take confidence-building measures so as to reduce tensions across one of the world's most heavily fortified borders. The chief executive who took office in February, however, made clear that the country needs to maintain firm deterrence against provocations.
In its booklet outlining the trust-building process, the ministry said it is undesirable to link every single inter-Korean issue to the denuclearization development, while vowing to boost exchange and cooperation with the North "starting from a low-level issue."
"When necessary, we will employ methods of persuasion and pressure to dissuade the North from nuclear arms," it said, citing examples such as inter-Korean dialogue, three-way discussions between the two Koreas and their neighbors and six-party talks that involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.
Speaking of last week's deal to restart the factory park in the North border town of Kaesong, Ryoo said the agreement is "a mere beginning" of its pursuit of improved relations.
After seven rounds of intensive talks, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to restart the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was shut down in April amid soaring tensions following Pyongyang's third nuclear test.
"Resolving the Kaesong issue well is a meaningful step. From this foundation, the government will try to settle a slew of tricky inter-Korean issues in a calm and orderly manner," Ryoo said.
He also stressed that the two Koreas "did agree to work together toward the resumption of tours to Mt. Kumgang, though Seoul needs to factor in diverse circumstances."
The two Koreas over the weekend agreed to hold a reunion for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War in mid-September. But they have yet to decide upon the venue where to hold talks aimed at hashing out the details of the reunion.
While the North has sought to link the sightseeing project to the family reunions, the South maintains that it will handle the two issues separately.
Stressing common sense and international norms as key standards of building inter-Korean ties, the minister said the government aims to push for its North Korean policy in a consistent manner with long-term perspectives.
"We will not be obsessed with short-term achievements. Our focus will be on how solid the inter-Korean trust is rather than how fast we reach the goal," Ryoo said.
"We will take complicated inter-Korean issues one by one ... Strenuous efforts will allow us to correct wrongful, unreasonable practices in the past and to put the relations on a solid, reasonable foundation," he added.
After months of simmering tensions on the Korean Peninsula triggered by the North's third nuclear test in February and bellicose threats against South Korea and the U.S., Pyongyang shifted to a charm offensive around June, offering talks with Seoul and Washington. (Yonhap News)