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Seoul can provide economic support if N. Korea move to denuclearize: Yoon

Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate of the main opposition People Power Party, speaks during a meeting with foreign correspondents at the Press Center in Seoul on Nov. 12.(Yonhap)
Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate of the main opposition People Power Party, speaks during a meeting with foreign correspondents at the Press Center in Seoul on Nov. 12.(Yonhap)
Presidential hopeful Yoon Seok-youl on Friday said he is open to providing economic support in return for Pyongyang’s progress toward denuclearization, while pledging to change the current “master-servant” relationship between the two Koreas.

Yoon, the presidential candidate of the main opposition People Power Party, elucidated his camp’s approach to North Korea and foreign and security policies at a news conference hosted by the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

Yoon said he plans to “lead international cooperation” in achieving the denuclearization of North Korea as well as propose a “predictable” road map entailing a “step-by-step" approach.

The presidential candidate notably suggested a piecemeal and action-for-action approach of providing compensation in return for Pyongyang’s steps toward denuclearization.

Yoon underscored that he would provide economic support and engage in inter-Korean economic cooperation projects in exchange for Pyongyang’s denuclearization measures, “should the North Korean leadership makes the determination.”

In addition, Yoon said he would push forward the “Inter-Korean Joint Economic Development Plan” in preparation for the post-denuclearization era.

The presidential hopeful of the conservative party also pledged to provide humanitarian aid to Pyongyang and expand cultural and personal exchanges between the two Koreas.

“We will seek a policy to reform and open North Korea which we can start and implement before North Korea responds, and we will push it forward in coordination with the international community.”

Speaking at a press briefing, Yoon also pledged to put the South-North relationship on the right track while maintaining consistency and principles. Yoon criticized the inter-Korean relations as having “degenerated into a master-servant relationship.”

To that end, the presidential candidate underscored the importance of ensuring watertight security and maintaining military readiness against North Korea’s threats.

Yoon said he would “neutralize North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities” by upgrading the sophistication of Seoul’s indigenous missile defense system and expanding the ROK-US extended deterrence.

Regarding foreign policy, Yoon said he would establish a “comprehensive strategic alliance” with Washington, joining the Joe Biden administration’s efforts to lay the foundations for an alliance of democracies.

The presidential candidate also promised to open a “new era of mutual respect and cooperation with China.” Yoon said he would expand bilateral cooperation between Seoul and Beijing and manage pending issues and potential sources of conflict, including North Korean issues, by regularizing “high-level strategic dialogue.”

Concerning Seoul-Tokyo relations, Yoon plans to seek comprehensive solutions that cover issues stemming from their shared wartime history as well as economic and security cooperation. Yoon said he would envision a fresh bilateral relationship that shares values and interests and creates mutual trust between South Korea and Japan.

By Ji Da-gyum (dagyumji@heraldcorp.com)
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