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Seoul urges N. Korea to choose between trust and confrontation

Seoul urges N. Korea to choose between trust and confrontation

Pyongyang’s economic development plan will fail, presidential aide says

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Published : 2013-12-26 21:07
Updated : 2013-12-26 21:07

Responding to Pyongyang’s call to end “hostile” policies, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Thursday it is up to North Korea to determine whether the two Koreas will follow a path of trust or confrontation.

North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, the country’s body for inter-Korean affairs, on Wednesday issued a questionnaire addressed to the Park Geun-hye administration, raising seven questions including “Confidence or confrontation?”

In the questionnaire reported on by the North’s official news wire, the committee claimed that President Park had slandered the North and pursued even fiercer confrontation with the country than her predecessor, President Lee Myung-bak, despite her pledges to build trust.

“Whether we will see trust or confrontation depends on North Korea’s attitude,” Seoul’s Unification Ministry said in a statement. “The North should keep in mind that the international community is watching the behavior of North Korea.”

Raising such questions may be aimed at covering up the confusion inside the North, the statement also said, alluding to the country’s recent execution of the North Korean leader’s once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek and potential agitation that may have ensued.

“North’s inhumane and senseless acts are leading to a hike in uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula as well as in the Northeast Asia region,” the statement noted.

The latest exchange of barbs comes amid increased attention on the communist country following the execution of Jang for allegedly attempting to overthrow the North Korean regime earlier this month.

The execution of the previous No. 2 figure in the country and guardian of leader Kim Jong-un is believed to reflect Kim’s efforts to tighten his grip on power.

Earlier in the day, Ju Chul-ki, senior presidential foreign affairs secretary, said North Korea’s plan to attract foreign investment by setting up economic development zones is doomed to fail unless Pyongyang addresses its nuclear weapons programs.

He said in a forum that no one could invest in North Korea properly while tightened U.N. sanctions remain in place against the country for its nuclear tests.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and February 2013, drawing international condemnation and tougher U.N. sanctions.

Still, North Korea has said it will simultaneously pursue both nuclear and economic development, calling its nuclear programs a deterrent against what it claims to be a hostile policy by the U.S.

South Korea and the U.S. warned that the North’s policy is a dead end for the country.

Ju also called on North Korea to follow in the footstep of either Ukraine or Kazakhstan in giving up nuclear weapons in return for economic aid and security guarantees.

North Korea has rejected previous calls to emulate Libya, which received a set of political incentives after abandoning its nuclear program. (Yonhap News)

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