Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

US envoy to SKorea hopeful for peninsula

US envoy to SKorea hopeful for peninsula

The outgoing American envoy to Seoul said Tuesday she's optimistic about the possibilities of peace on the Korean Peninsula, convinced that if the North accepts "genuine" negotiations with the South it could lead to much improved relations.
"I am not myself pessimistic at all," Ambassador Kathleen Stephens told the annual dinner of the Korea Society. "I know that the people of North Korea have the same human potential and aspirations as their brothers and sisters in the South."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister; several other former American ambassadors to South Korea, and leading Korean-American business leaders were among those gathered for the black-tie event at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
Stephens said relations on the peninsula have been difficult over the last two years, "with a series of challenges and provocative actions from North Korea."
Tensions remain high between the Koreas. Seoul blamed a North Korean torpedo for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March 2010 that killed 46 sailors; North Korea denied any role. North Korea shelled a front-line South Korean island in November, killing four people.
"We have made clear to the leadership in Pyongyang that it is on the wrong path, and that there will continue to be consequences for staying on that path," the U.S. ambassador said. "We have sent an equally clear message that there is another way forward, one of genuine negotiations leading to genuine progress and improvement."
Stephens said the international community should work together "to hasten the day that the Korean Peninsula is whole, free and at peace." She said reunification should be based upon "the principles of a free democracy and market economy."
Earlier in the evening, Ban told the gathering that U.N. officials were on the verge of declaring a famine in east Africa and saw a similar "potential emergency" brewing in North Korea following a harsh winter followed by severe flooding. Concerns about food shortages and hunger in the North have increased in recent months.
"I am determined to do everything possible to help get the Korean Peninsula situation under control," said Ban, including ensuring that it is free of nuclear weapons.
The Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice. No peace treaty has been signed.
The United States stations about 28,500 troops in the South to deter the communist North.