South Korea unveiled a midterm master plan for developing inter-Korean relations Monday mostly focusing on the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the establishment of lasting peace and mutual trust with North Korea.
The plan, the third of its kind, lays out the objectives and directions of the government's policy on inter-Korean relations for 2018-2022. It will replace the second plan drawn up in 2013 during the administration of former President Park Geun-hye.
Under the latest plan, the Moon Jae-in government will focus mostly on realizing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, building lasting pace and replacing an armistice that ended the Korean War with a peace treaty.
The plan apparently reflected an agreement reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in their April summit for the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." This compares with the previous plan in which the government sought the "denuclearization of North Korea."
The government also vows to work hard to build mutual trust between the militaries of the Koreas and seek arms control in a step-by-step manner.
The government said that it will push, in particular, to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War "before the end of this year," as agreed by the leaders of the Koreas in their April summit, though it will approach "flexibly" finalizing details, such as when and how the objective will be pursued.
The latest plan was announced amid a significantly changed situation and growing peace mood on the Korean Peninsula punctuated by North Korean leader Kim's three summits with President Moon and his historic meeting with US President Donald Trump this year.
This is a far cry from tensions and even worries over a possible outbreak of a war amid North Korea's continued missile and nuclear provocations until late last year.
Building on the fledgling rapprochement, Seoul has been pushing to expand cross-border exchanges and contacts in diverse areas, but the efforts have been facing a challenge from sanctions, which the US says will remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons program.
In the latest plan, the government prioritizes "peaceful coexistence" and "mutual prosperity," and to realize the two main "visions," it believes that peace and economic cooperation should go hand in hand "in a virtuous cycle."
The government said that it also aims to hold inter-Korean summits and high-level talks on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual concern in the years to come.
The 2018-2022 plan, which was reported to the National Assembly last week, should have come earlier to replace the previous version that expired last year.
The unification ministry said it was delayed inevitably to reflect the breathtaking developments seen throughout this year in inter-Korean ties and relations between the US and the North.
Under a law enacted in 2006, the government is required to formulate a master plan every five years on how to develop inter-Korean relations, as well as annual implementation plans in accordance with the master plan. (Yonhap)