GNP split on policy to North

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GNP split on policy to North

Senior Grand National Party lawmakers who gathered yesterday to deliberate the government’s policy toward North Korea after its attack on Yeonpyeong Island quarrelled intensely and broke into two camps.

One group argued the government should ease its tough stance against the communist regime to abate the highly strained relations between the two Koreas. This met fierce opposition from another group that maintained it was too early to “appease” North Korea.

“The crisis on Yeonpyeong Island was ended by the strong leadership of President Lee Myung-bak, and his overall handling of the aftermath of the crisis was validated by the stock market, which reached a yearly high,” GNP Representative Hong Sa-duk said in yesterday’s meeting. “But I’m sure everyone here will agree that the current, tense inter-Korean situation shouldn’t continue for a long time.”

Hong said the GNP leadership should take the lead in reviewing the administration’s current policies on the North.

“Inter-Korean relations shouldn’t go in this way,” he said.

Reformist lawmaker Nam Kyung-pil, chair of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee, said the government needs to come up with new long-term policies dealing with North Korea that can last for 20 to 30 years.

“Though there were partial failures of [former President Kim Dae-jung’s] Sunshine Policy, we can’t deny that there were some remarkable outcomes from that policy,” Nam said. “Both ruling and opposition parties should put their heads together and come up with long-term policies to build peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Chung Doo-un, another young, reformist GNP lawmaker, said the Lee administration must review its current diplomatic and security stance, as it is too “hawkish.”

Lee Yoon-sung refuted Chung’s argument, saying, “The government at this point doesn’t have room to use engagement policies toward North Korea” after the Yeonpyeong shelling.

Another lawmaker, Lee Kyeong-jae, sided with Lee and said tough military confrontation is the most realistic way to keep peace on the peninsula.

“It’s wrong to say that military drills are the cause of the escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Lee said. “North Korea will be careful for the time being because the South Korean government showed its strong will by holding the military drill.”

Meanwhile, opposition Democratic Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu said yesterday that he plans to send senior DP officials as delegates to the United States, China and Russia for dialogues on reducing tension on the Korean Peninsula.

“The DP will seek dialogue and exchanges from various angles,” Sohn said. “The DP can also take the lead and engage in direct dialogue between the North and South when the situation needs our presence.”


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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