President Park Geun-hye on Thursday urged North Korea to renounce its nuclear program, reiterating that it was a “critical stumbling block” to bilateral economic cooperation.
During a ceremony commissioning some 5,860 new officers as second lieutenants, Park also vowed to bolster South Korea’s defense capabilities to independently counter persistent military threats from the North.
“Should the North take sincere denuclearization steps forward, we and the international community will move forward in the direction of the North’s development, genuine peace on the peninsula and coprosperity of Northeast Asia,” she said during the ceremony at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters in South Chungcheong Province.
“The North should quickly realize that it cannot push for nuclear armament and economic development at the same time.”
Her remarks came as Pyongyang has sought to improve relations with Seoul and other neighbors in an apparent bid to gain outside assistance to shore up its debilitated economy.
Saying that laying the foundation for free, peaceful reunification is Koreans’ “historical obligation,” she stressed robust security as a crucial element for the process.
“Even if there would be any change in the inter-Korean relations or security situations, our military should conscientiously carry out their given tasks to safeguard our nation and people. In that way, we can open the door of reunification,” she said.
Commenting on regional historical and territorial conflicts, and newly emerging threats such as those in cyberspace, Park stressed close inter-agency cooperation for more effective responses to future threats.
“In accordance with the shifts in the strategic (security) environments, we will keep on strengthening future-oriented defense capabilities to proactively respond to new security threats,” she said.
Park also advised the new officers to grow as “global” military leaders that would contribute to world peace.
By Song Sang-ho (email@example.com