Parties stake contrasting claims about U.S. summit

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Parties stake contrasting claims about U.S. summit

As President Park Geun-hye makes international headlines after showing a united front on the subject of North Korea with U.S. President Barack Obama, Korean lawmakers had opposing responses to the summit.

The ruling Saenuri Party welcomed the joint declaration Tuesday in Washington by the two presidents while the main opposition Democratic Party expressed skepticism that the summit made any serious “breakthrough.”

The Saenuri Party regarded highly the results of the summit, which “produced a joint front against the dangers of North Korea’s provocations, and expanded upon and deepened the level of alliance, as well as other areas including security, economy and even the environment,” said Lee Sang-il, Saenuri spokesman yesterday.

“In the case of North Korea’s provocations, South Korea and the U.S. through the two countries’ strengthened alliance will show a firm response,” Lee added, “But when North Korea abandons its nuclear program and takes the path of dialogue, South Korea and the U.S. will support the North.” He added that North Korea has to “carefully read” the message in the Korea-U.S. joint declaration.

At the National Assembly, Saenuri Chairman Hwang Woo-yea said the joint declaration by the two presidents “shares the two countries’ values and trust as global partners and shows strong a determination to jointly bring about peace in Northeast Asia and unification of the Korean Peninsula.”

He said the two countries’ partnership “will serve as a continuous foundation on which to build strong security and economic development.”

But Kim Han-gill, chairman of the Democratic Party, during a Supreme Council meeting, was more critical of the joint statement, stating that it did not “make a breakthrough to decrease tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

He said he hopes “the Park Geun-hye administration does not follow the failed North Korea and U.S. policies of the Lee Myung-bak administration.”

Representative Shin Kyoung-min of the Democratic Party and member of its Supreme Council said, “The alliance has been plenty emphasized, but it seems there hasn’t been any adequate comment on how to reduce tension and danger [on the Korean Peninsula.]”

“There is significance in the bilateral summit that the two countries once more confirmed that dialogue is needed,” said Bae Jae-jeung, Democratic Party spokeswoman, “but as a forum for North Korea to participate in dialogue has not been made, there still currently remains the work of how to decrease tension on the Korean Peninsula.”

By Sarah Kim, Lee So-ah [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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