Hong wants to ease sanctions on North

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Hong wants to ease sanctions on North

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Hong Joon-pyo, third from right, chairman of the ruling Grand National Party, talks with workers yesterday at Shin Won, a South Korean apparels manufacturer that operates factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Provided by the Ministry of Unification


The ruling Grand National Party will ask the Lee Myung-bak administration to ease sanctions on North Korea, especially on the Kaesong Industrial Complex, GNP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo said yesterday after a brief visit to the inter-Korean manufacturing park.

Urging the Blue House to soften its hard-line stance on the North, Hong expressed hope that Pyongyang would reciprocate by changing its attitude on inter-Korean relations.

“The Kaesong Industrial Complex is a strategic place from where the two Koreas can develop into an economic community as well as a community of peace,” Hong said at a press conference at Dorasan immigration office after his return.

Hong was the highest ranking South Korean to visit the North since the start of the Lee administration. It was also the first time that a GNP chairman visited the regime.

The chairman said the need to ease sanctions on the joint industrial park was made clear after learning of the hardships faced by the more than 120 South Korean companies operating factories in Kaesong.

“I will consult with the Ministry of Unification so that the May 24 [sanctions] can be applied flexibly to the Kaesong Industrial Complex.”

The May 24 sanctions were imposed on North Korea two months after its sinking of the Cheonan in March 2010, suspending all inter-Korean trade and South Korean investments in the North with the exception of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and Mount Kumgang resort.

North Korea has long complained about the sanctions, calling them a roadblock in inter-Korean relations.

Despite expectations that Hong’s visit could signal a breakthrough in stalled relations, Hong made clear that his visit was a working-level trip to check on South Korean companies operating there and to listen to their concerns and suggestions.

Hong did not meet with North Korean officials while visiting Kaesong.

The chairman suggested that the administration be flexible on North Korean policy.

“With this visit, I will try to facilitate the change. I will also look to the North to show sincere changes. I think it is meaningful that I visited the North as the chairman of the GNP,” Hong said.

The chairman added that he would consider making an official visit to the North if the opportunity arises. “The issue is a sincere change in the North’s attitude,” Hong said.

Asked if he and the GNP were on the same page with the Lee administration, Hong said, “If not, do you think the government would grant my visit?”

Hong crossed the border around 9 a.m. through immigration control at Dorasan Station. He was accompanied by GNP spokesman Kim Ki-hyun and Lee Bum-rae, GNP chief of staff. He and his entourage returned at around 3:30 p.m.

“It is a duty as a politician to make a breakthrough in stalled inter-Korean relations, though I am going on a working visit,” Hong said before leaving for Kaesong.

The visit also came ahead of possible dialogues between the two Koreas.

Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korean lawmakers and scholars would participate in a security conference hosted by University of Georgia Professor Park Han-sik on Oct. 17-20 in the United States. North Korean officials and U.S. experts on Korea are also to attend.

And on Oct. 26-27, diplomats from the two Koreas, Japan, Russia and the United States are to attend the U.S. Institute of Global Conflict and Cooperation’s Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue in Hawaii. China is also expected to join.


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


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

개성공단 갔다온 홍준표 “평양 인사 접촉 없었다”

“5·24 대북 제재 유연해져야”

홍준표 한나라당 대표가 30일 개성공단을 7시간 방문했다. 한나라당 대표로는 처음이다. 홍 대표는 방문 직후 경기도 도라산 남북출입사무소에서 연 기자회견에서 “개성공단에 대해선 5·24 대북 경제제재 조치를 좀 더 탄력적이고 유연하게 대처하도록 통일부와 협의하겠다”고 말했다. 홍 대표는 “꽉 막힌 남북관계를 뚫는 게 정치인의 책무”라며 이같이 5·24 제재 완화를 시사했다.

 홍 대표는 “5·24 조치를 유연화하는 데 대해 청와대·통일부와 사전 협의가 됐느냐”는 기자의 질문에 “정부와 사전교감이 없었다면 방북 승인이 났겠느냐”고 되물었다. 그는 “개성공단은 남북 경제공동체로 가는 길이며 평화공동체로 가는 중요한 지점”이라며 “이번 방문을 계기로 정부가 갖고 있는 ‘엄격한 상호주의’의 대북원칙을 ‘유연한 상호주의’로 전환하도록 노력하겠다”고 덧붙였다.

 - 개성공단을 둘러본 소감은.

 “남북관계 경색으로 입주 기업이 많은 어려움에 처해 있다. 근로자가 많이 부족해 공장가동률이 절반 수준이고 5·24 조치로 공장 증축공사도 중단돼 자금압박도 심한 상태다.”

 - 해결방안은 뭔가.

 “근로자 부족을 해결하기 위해 북한 근로자의 원거리 출퇴근을 위한 개성시와 개성공단 간 도로를 보수하고, 출퇴근 버스를 확대하는 방안을 정부와 협의해서 하겠다. 5·24 조치로 건축 공사가 중단된 기업들이 있어 공사가 재개될 수 있도록 정부에 요청하겠다. 5·24 조치 이후 입주업체들이 금융관계가 어려워 이를 해소할 방안이 있는지 보겠고, 소방서 설치와 의료진·의료시설 부족도 정부와 협조해 정리하겠다.”

 -북한 당국자와의 접촉은.

 “출발할 때부터 실무적 방문이었기 때문에 접촉한 일이 없다. 기회가 되면 정치적 방문도 고려할 수 있다. 문제는 북측의 성의 있는 태도다.”

 홍 대표는 “개성공단 1단계 100만 평의 입주율이 37%밖에 되지 않기 때문에 입주율을 높일 수 있는 방안도 강구하겠다”며 “개성공단의 근본적 한계를 극복하기 위해 개성공단의 숙원사업인 3통(통신·통행·통관) 문제가 해결되도록 정부 당국이 적극적으로 남북대화에 나서야 한다”고도 했다. 그러면서 “개성공단 문제에서 출발해 북한의 성의 있는, 진정성 있는 태도 변화를 주목하겠다”고 덧붙였다.

 북한 당국자 접촉과 관련, 홍 대표를 수행했던 정부 관계자도 “북한 측은 ‘개성공업지구관리위원회’ 실무자들이 현황 브리핑과 시설 안내를 맡았을 뿐 평양에서 내려온 인사는 없었다” 고 전했다. 당 핵심 관계자는 “홍 대표가 북한 당국자와 직접 접촉하지 않은 것은 정부 측의 자제 요청이 있었기 때문”이라며 “이번 방문으로 남북관계의 급격한 변화가 있는 것처럼 비쳐져 대북 정책에 혼선이 생기지 않게 하기 위한 것”이라고 설명했다.

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