A co-leader of South Korea's new opposition party called on the government Wednesday to push for an inter-Korean summit to defuse high tension on the Korean Peninsula following the North's military provocations.
Lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo made the proposal in his first address to the National Assembly after taking the helm of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy last month, along with former Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil. NPAD holds the largest number of seats in parliament after the ruling Saenuri Party.
"An inter-Korean summit is necessary," Ahn said. "It must take place with the support and sympathy of the people."
The two Koreas have held two summits -- in 2000 and 2007 -- both under the liberal governments of the current opposition bloc.
A summit should be pursued under the principle that unification is a process, not a one-off event, Ahn said, adding that a summit is no longer the "exclusive property" of a particular administration.
He also proposed that the government create and send a team of special envoys comprised of ruling and opposition lawmakers to Pyongyang, if it could help improve inter-Korean ties.
Tension on the divided Korean Peninsula has risen significantly in recent weeks after North Korea test-fired two midrange ballistic missiles, threatened a "new form" of nuclear test and conducted live-fire drills near the western sea border.
About 100 rounds of artillery shells fell into southern waters during the drills on Monday, prompting South Korea to fire back with 300 rounds of artillery.
Experts have also raised concerns that the "new form" of nuclear test could mean one that uses a uranium-based device, unlike North Korea's past three tests that are believed to have used plutonium.
"Military action will only put inter-Korean ties in danger and bring international isolation upon (North Korea)," Ahn said. "(North Korea) should cease its reckless military acts and come forward for dialogue." (Yonhap)