GNP to drop call for rights in the North

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GNP to drop call for rights in the North

The ruling Grand National Party plans to remove from its platform a clause calling for human rights improvement and political reform in North Korea, officials said yesterday, in a conciliatory gesture toward the communist state.

The conservative party’s move appears to reflect concerns that the expression could anger Pyongyang at a time of transition following the death of leader Kim Jong-il last month.

The North has bristled at talk of human rights and reform as an attempt to topple the regime.

The GNP’s emergency council has agreed to remove the article urging Pyongyang to improve human rights in the nation and change its communist system to a free democracy, as a majority opinion considered the articles could provoke the North in its transition, officials said.

The revised platform redefines the party’s helping role for “North Korea’s reform and opening” to focus on supporting the impoverished nation with nuclear ambitions to “become a member of the international community,” they noted. The U.S. maintains sanctions on North Korea mainly over its nuclear weapons programs and weapons proliferation activities. The United Nations separately slapped sanctions on the communist country over its nuclear and missile tests.

The party will still seek measures to reunify the divided Koreas, which still remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in armistice.

The revised article will be included in the party’s new platform, which will be confirmed in a general meeting later in the day, officials said. The conservative party’s platform revision is the latest example showing that the unpopular party is shifting its core political and economic values to shake off its tarnished image ahead of April’s general elections. Yonhap

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