S. Korea vows to deal sternly with N. Korea’s planned rocket launch
SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea will deal sternly with North Korea’s planned rocket launch but will keep its door open to talks with the communist country, Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang said Wednesday.
The North announced last week it would launch a rocket in mid-April to put a satellite into orbit, in what it said was part of its peaceful space program. The launch is timed to mark the centennial of the birth of the country’s late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.
South Korea “will deal sternly with” North Korea’s planned rocket launch through close coordination with the international community, Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said in a forum, according to his office. Continue reading →
President Lee Myung-bak on Monday offered North Korea a “new era” in bilateral relations provided the Stalinist country shows it is sincere.
Six-party nuclear disarmament talks “could resume as soon as the North stops its nuclear activities,” Lee said in a nationally televised New Year’s address. “We are prepared to give the North the necessary assistance to remove its worries about security… and restore its economy.”
Lee did not demand an apology for the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010. But a senior presidential official later said Lee “didn’t exempt the North from its responsibility to apologize. It’s a message that anything the North wants will be possible once the peninsula is denuclearized. Through his New Year’s address, he extended his hand to the North.”
Another official said Lee suggested he would leave the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong issues “in the area of strategic ambiguity.”
Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said, “We are going to watch how the North reacts while maintaining a flexible approach.”
The North Korean regime in its regular New Year’s editorial in the state papers earlier reaffirmed that it will not engage with the Lee Myung-bak administration.