President Park Geun-hye said South Korea is prepared to help North Korea rebuild its tattered infrastructure and join international organizations if the isolated communist nation makes progress in ending its nuclear programs and enough trust is built with Seoul.
Park held out the prospective of massive economic aid to the impoverished North during an interview with Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency and Russia TV 24 news channel, according to the presidential office. The interview was held in Seoul on Monday and was broadcast Wednesday, officials said.
Park arrived in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg for a G20 summit.
|President Park Geun-hye|
On its sidelines, Park held one-on-one meeting with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. She will also hold summits with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kazakhstan‘s President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If the South and the North build up trust in each other and denuclearization makes progress, I intend to provide support for North Korea to beef up infrastructure, such as communication, transportation and electricity (facilities), and to join international organizations,” Park said.
Park said this is in line with the Korean Peninsula trust process, her signature policy on North Korea that calls for dialogue and exchanges to build trust with Pyongyang in a step-by-step manner while maintaining strong military deterrence against provocations.
Humanitarian aid to the North will continue regardless of the political situation, she said.
Relations between the two Koreas suffered high tensions earlier this year as Pyongyang churned out near-daily threats of war against the South and the United States in anger over American-involved military exercises in the South in the wake of the North’s third nuclear test.
But their ties have shown signs of improvements in recent months, with the North toning down war rhetoric and agreeing to reopen a jointly run industrial complex and to hold reunions for families separated across the border since the 1950-53 Korean War.
These breakthroughs were seen as a victory for Park‘s principled approach to Pyongyang.
On relations with Russia, Park said she believes the two countries have great potential for cooperation as their economies are mutually supplementary. Russia is also a key partner in South Korea’s efforts to bring permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula and enhance cooperation in Northeast Asia, she said.
“Since South Korea and Russia established diplomatic relations, they made a lot of progress, with (bilateral) trade volume rising more than 110-folds,” Park said. “Nonetheless, there are still many areas where we can increase cooperation.”
Enhancing such cooperation will be a main topic for her summit with Putin, she said. (Yonhap News)