UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

S.Korean leader urges firmer line on Pyongyang

RIA Novosti

26/03/2008 15:30 MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - South Korea's president urged North Korea on Wednesday to cooperate on the issue of repatriating abductees and prisoners of war, and to speed up denuclearization efforts, Yonhap news agency said.

Conservative leader Lee Myung-bak, who came to power last month after his election victory late last year, has repeatedly said he plans to seek more in return from Pyongyang for South Korea's generous subsidies.

Lee told a policy briefing session of the Unification Ministry: "We'll keep up the shipment of humanitarian aid to North Korea regardless of the nuclear issue... In return, however, the North should also become more serious about resolving the problems associated with South Korean prisoners of war, abductees and separated families."

The fate of many of the 1,000 South Koreans abducted by the North during the 1950-1953 Korean War remains unknown.

Lee also urged North Korea to completely abandon its nuclear program to pave the way for inter-Korean peace and closer economic cooperation.

"North Korea's leadership has to realize that the settlement of its nuclear problem would be truly helpful to inter-Korean economic cooperation and unification. The North will only be able to stabilize its regime, maintain peace and achieve economic prosperity when it gives up its nuclear program," the agency quoted him as saying.

Under an agreement reached last October between the United States, Japan, Russia, China, and North and South Korea, Pyongyang was to halt its nuclear programs and provide full information on nuclear activities by the end of 2007 in exchange for economic and political concessions. However, after the North missed the deadline, the six-way negotiations stalled.

Since the October deal, South Korea, China and Russia have each supplied North Korea with 50,000 metric tons of fuel oil.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list