Lee, Obama call on North to join ‘path of peace’

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Lee, Obama call on North to join ‘path of peace’


President Lee Myung-bak, bottom right, speaks at the 66th session of the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

NEW YORK - Addressing world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Wednesday appealed once more to North Korea to give up its nuclear arms programs and join the path of peace and prosperity.

Lee’s remarks were echoed by U.S. President Barack Obama, who also warned that the communist regime would face “greater pressure and isolation” if it continued holding on to its nuclear programs.

The two leaders’ messages came as the two Koreas failed to see progress in nuclear negotiations Wednesday in Beijing.

“In the 21st century, we must first work together if we wish to attain peace and prosperity,” Lee said at the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. “This is a historical trend and the DPRK must take part,” he said, referring to the North by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“It is my hope to see the DPRK enjoy peace and prosperity by becoming a responsible member of the international community,” Lee said. “When the DPRK chooses the path to mutual benefit and common prosperity, we will be ready to help in this endeavor along with the international community.”

Lee’s latest message, however, contained no new vision for resolving the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula. Ahead of the UN summit in 2009, Lee offered the North a “grand bargain” to give up its nuclear arms programs in return for aid and security guarantees.

Lee’s restrained tone was in line with the latest efforts by Seoul to improve relations with Pyongyang. The two Koreas and Russia are discussing a gas pipeline project, while the new Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik has hinted at the possibility of providing food aid and expanding inter-Korean economic cooperation.

Lee’s message to the North was softer than that of Obama’s. Conspicuously missing was any reference to the North’s two attacks on South Korea last year, which was mentioned by the U.S. president.

“North Korea has yet to take concrete steps towards abandoning its weapons and continues belligerent action against the South,” Obama said. “There’s a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their international obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace and security demands.”

Asked why Lee did not specifically address the North’s attacks last year, Park Jeong-ha, presidential spokesman, said the South Korean government’s position has not changed that Pyongyang must admit to and apologize for the attacks. “Lee has reiterated the position many times, and there was no need to point it out once again,” Park said.

It was Lee’s second appearance at the UN General Assembly since his first in 2009. In addition to North Korea, Lee discussed a wide range of other topics in his address. He pledged that South Korea will continue to cooperate with the UN to promote the values it advocates, such as democracy, peace and prosperity.

Lee also pointed out the continuing threat of terrorism, particularly nuclear terror, and promised Korea’s cooperation in preventing it.

“The second nuclear security summit will be held in Seoul in March next year,” Lee said. “The Republic of Korea is making every effort to ensure that the summit will constitute a valuable opportunity for the international community to build a more solid system of international cooperation necessary to prevent nuclear terrorism.”

Lee also promoted his new campaign of “ecosystemic development” by saying it is a way to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries. The concept was first described in Lee’s Aug. 15 Liberation Day address and the Korean president said it should be used to achieve common prosperity for all mankind.

“Developed nations must help developing countries to maximize their capacity so that they can achieve economic growth and development on their own,” Lee said. “To this end, it is important to foster a global atmosphere that is conducive to supporting the development of trade, investment, finance and human resources in developing countries.”

Lee also congratulated Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on his re-election to a second term. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Korea’s admittance to the UN.

On Thursday, Lee is scheduled to give an address at a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security. Wrapping up his UN schedule later in the day, Lee will leave for Seattle, where he will meet with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Friday.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“북, 상생 택하면 돕겠다”

이 대통령, 유엔총회 기조연설… 세계지도자상도 받아

이명박 대통령은 21일(현지시간) “북한이 상생과 공영의 길을 택한다면 대한민국은 국제사회와 더불어 이를 기꺼이 도울 것”이라고 말했다. 이어 “한반도가 더 이상 분열과 반목의 장이 아닌, 동북아시아와 세계 평화를 일구는 희망의 터전이 되길 소망한다”고 했다. 미국 뉴욕에서 열린 제66차 유엔총회 기조연설을 통해서다. 이 대통령에겐 2009년에 이은 두 번째 기조연설이다.

 이 대통령은 북한의 변화 노력도 촉구했다. 그는 “북한의 핵 위협은 한반도와 동북아시아, 그리고 세계 평화에 커다란 도전”이라며 “지난 20년간 우리는 한반도 비핵화를 위해 국제사회와 더불어 외교적 노력을 기울여 왔고 앞으로도 계속 노력해 나갈 것”이라고 말했다. 그러면서 “21세기의 세계는 안보도 경제도 협력하며 공동 번영을 이루어 가는 세계다. 북한도 이제 시대의 조류에 합류해야 한다”고 강조했다.

 이 대통령은 20일 인권단체 ‘양심의 호소재단’이 수여한 ‘세계지도자상’을 받은 뒤 연설을 통해서도 비슷한 언급을 했다. 그는 “먼저 (북한이) 비핵화를 통해 한반도 평화에 대한 위협을 제거하고 남과 북이 상호 신뢰를 구축하는 게 가장 중요하다”며 “이를 바탕으로 남북 간 경제협력을 강화해 공동번영의 길로 나아가고 평화통일을 이뤄야 한다”고 말했다. 이어 “통일 한국은 어느 국가에도 위협이 되지 않고 세계 평화에 기여할 것”이라며 “대통령 재임 중 내가 할 역할은 그러한 날이 오도록 기초를 닦는 것”이라고 했다. 반기문 유엔 사무총장은 시상식에 참석, “한국이 유엔의 일원으로 글로벌 코리아를 전개하는 걸 보면서 대단히 기쁘게 생각한다”고 말했다.

 한편 버락 오바마 미국 대통령은 이날 “북한은 비핵화 약속을 이행하지 않고 있다”고 지적하며 “국제법을 계속 어길 경우 더 큰 국제적 압박과 고립에 직면할 것”이라고 경고했다.
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