Park articulates policy on North

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Park articulates policy on North

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President Park Geun-hye pays respects to U.S. soldiers who died during the 1950-53 Korean War at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington on Monday. [Joint Press Corps]

WASHINGTON - President Park Geun-hye described her North Korea policy ahead of her summit with U.S. President Barack Obama, a landmark opportunity for her administration to coordinate with its longtime ally the approach in dealing with Pyongyang.

Park is scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House Tuesday, local time. At the summit, the two leaders are scheduled to adopt a joint declaration marking the 60-year-old alliance between South Korea and the United States, presenting their commitment to upgrade the two countries’ military alliance to a global partnership in wider areas over the coming decades.

The joint declaration evaluates the 60 years of the alliance and reaffirms the United States’ commitment to defend South Korea as a key pillar of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said Tuesday. “It will present the direction for future development of the alliance to reinforce bilateral economic cooperation, the two countries’ efforts for peace and prosperity .?.?. and the peaceful unification of the two Koreas and cooperation to end the North’s nuclear arms program.”

The summit is seen as an important opportunity for Park to win Obama’s support for her North Korea policy, also known as “trustpolitik.” It seeks a two-track approach of dealing with the nuclear-armed communist regime that includes pledges of stern retaliation against attacks and provocations while also calling for talks and exchanges to build trust and defuse tension. Other bilateral issues including cooperative projects in energy, information technology and expansion of student exchanges are also expected to be discussed.

After arriving in the U.S. capital Monday afternoon, Park laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery and also paid a visit to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. She then met with 450 Koreans living in the area and gave assurance to them about the security of their homeland.

“Our door for dialogue remains always open,” she said about North Korea. “If the North stops its provocations now and takes a road recognized by the international community, I will open the path for the two Koreas’ mutual prosperity through the Korean Peninsula trust process.”

She asked her hosts to have faith in the South’s security and economy.

Shortly before leaving New York Monday, Park met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and won his support for her North Korea policy.

“The North wants to keep its nuclear arms while seeking to develop its economy at the same time, but those are goals that can’t stand side by side,” Park said in her meeting with Ban. “I want to put forth the Korean Peninsula trust process because we cannot tolerate a nuclear-armed North, and there cannot be any reward for its provocations and threats. I will make the North pay for its provocations, but if it chooses the right path, we will support and cooperate with the North so that we can move forward together on a course of mutual prosperity.”

At the meeting, Park stressed that she believes humanitarian assistance should be provided to the North Korean people. “Under the Korean Peninsula trust process, we want to offer transparent humanitarian aid for the North Korean people separately from political situations,” she said. “To this end, I believe cooperating with the United Nations will be of great help.”

Earlier in the meeting, Ban expressed his expectation that Park’s leadership will help resolve the North Korea crisis.

“The North is currently facing an economic and social crisis, and it is isolated from the international community,” Ban said. “I believe it is desirable for the South to continue proper humanitarian aid to the vulnerable population of the North, including infants, to live up to its international reputation.”

Park also explained her North Korea policy in an interview with CBS aired Monday evening after she arrived in the U.S. capital city.

In the interview, Park warned that North Korea will “pay” if it launches any attack on the South. She also made clear that it is the goal of her “trustpolitik” to end the past pattern of rewarding the North’s bad behavior.

“North Korea engages in provocations and threats, and this is followed by negotiations and assistance. So we saw an endless continuation of the vicious cycle, and it is time for us to put an end to this cycle,” she said.

Brushing off the communist regime’s recent series of verbal attacks, Park sent a clear message to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“I would tell him that North Korea must change,” she said. “That is the only way for survival and the only way to development.”


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