Reps suggest special envoy to be sent to Pyongyang

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Reps suggest special envoy to be sent to Pyongyang

The leader of the main opposition party yesterday proposed dispatching a special envoy to Pyongyang as a means toward calming war fears and prodding along a “trust-building” process between the two Koreas.

Some of the names mentioned for the role are former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or Bill or Hillary Clinton.

Moon Hee-sang, interim leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party, said at a meeting at the National Assembly that sending a special envoy may be the right response to ongoing tensions, especially as Pyongyang banned entry of South Korean workers and cargo to the Kaesong Industrial Complex since Wednesday.

“Every time there was a chance, we recommended to President Park Geun-hye to send a special envoy to North Korea,” said Moon, “And right now is a very good time to actively consider sending one.”

Park visited the North in May 2002 and met with the late leader Kim Jong-il.

Moon told the JoongAng Ilbo, “Whenever North and South relations were at a stalemate, a special envoy eased the situation.” He pointed out that former U.S. President Carter effectively served as a special envoy during the Kim Young-sam administration and the nuclear tensions in 1994 and helped pave the way for a summit between South and North Korea and the Agreed Framework of that year.

He suggested former presidents Carter and Bill Clinton or former U.S. secretaries of state Madeleine Albright or Hillary Clinton as prime “foreign candidates that can gain Pyongyang’s trust.” He said that the envoy could also be a South Korean official such as DUP representatives Park Jie-won, former floor leader, or Moon Sung-keun, a member of its Supreme Council.

Moon, interim leader of the DUP, criticized North Korea for blocking the South’s access to the inter-Korean industrial park. “The Kaesong Industrial Complex is the symbol of reconciliation and cooperation achieved through the North and South’s joined collaboration,” he said.

The ruling Saenuri Party’s official position is that “it is not the time for a special envoy,” according to Saenuri spokeswoman Min Hyun-joo. But within the party, there are differing opinions.

Saenuri representative Kil Jeong-woo, who assisted in Park’s foreign policy campaign pledges, said, “A trust-building process on the peninsula does not have to happen only when North Korea gives up on nuclear weapons. If official dialogue is difficult, there is a need to dispatch a special envoy in order to open a path to dialogue.”


By Kang In-sik, Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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