Park exhorts North on military’s day

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Park exhorts North on military’s day

President Park Geun-hye urged Thursday that North Korea immediately stop its nuclear and missile development programs and offered to help rebuild its impoverished economy if it chooses dialogue over confrontation.

In a speech at an Armed Forces Day ceremony, Park advised the Kim Jong-un regime to end its nuclear brinkmanship. “North Korea must face that it will gain nothing from provocation and confrontation and join the path of peace on the Korean Peninsula, mutual prosperity and unification,” Park said.

“The North must immediately stop nuclear development and long-range ballistic missile development, which jeopardizes the Korean people’s destiny and hinders world peace,” Park said. “As long as the North holds onto its nuclear program, its isolation will grow severe and the road to economic development will never be open before it.”

Park said South Korea and the international community will actively help rebuild the North’s economy if the Kim regime chooses talks, not attacks or other forms of provocations. “I urge the North to abandon its nuclear program and hold our hands in cooperation,” she said.

Park’s remark came as concerns grew about the North’s plan to conduct a nuclear test or fire a long-range missile. Pyongyang warned last month that it will launch a satellite into space, which the world sees as a test of an inter-continental ballistic missile. The North also warned that it will conduct a nuclear test, which would be its fourth.

Park gave the speech at Gyeryongdae, the country’s main military compound in South Chungcheong Province. Top military and government officials, senior members of the judiciary and politicians joined the event to mark the 67th anniversary of the founding of the military.

Park said the latest North Korean provocations using land mines and artillery firing showed that stern responses based on a firm principle was the only way to end the vicious cycle of attacks. She also said South Korea’s soldiers’ patriotic attitude demonstrated the Korean military’s strength to the North.

Park promised that her administration will invest more to upgrade the country’s military to better counter security concerns in the region.

“The North is continuously developing nuclear weapons and ignores the international community’s warning,” she said. “Conflicts and arms races are also worsening among the neighbors and in Northeast Asia.

“The government will allocate a defense budget next year that is higher than the increase in the rate of fiscal spending in order to secure key operational capabilities and improve the safety and right conditions for conscripts.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@Joongang.co.kr]
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