Alexa

North Korea hopes South stays engaged

North Korea hopes South stays engaged

A senior North Korean official said he hopes South Korea will not backtrack on its policy of engagement with the communist country after electing a conservative candidate to be president, media reported yesterday.
North Korea has not issued an official reaction to Wednesday's election of Lee Myung-bak, whose main opposition Grand National Party has been heavily critical of Seoul's policy toward Pyongyang.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited North Korean Senior Cabinet Councilor Kwon Ho Ung saying he hoped a change of government in the South would not unhinge strengthening relations between the two sides.
"How can the general trend of inter-Korean cooperation be changed?" Yonhap quoted Kwon as saying at a private meeting Friday in the North's border city of Kaesong, citing an unnamed participant at the meeting.
A Unification Ministry spokesman told The Associated Press that Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung attended a ceremony and private luncheon with Kwon in Kaesong on Friday, but could not confirm Kwon's reported comments. The spokesman requested anonymity, citing ministry policy.
The leaders of the two Koreas met in October - the second-ever summit since the Korean peninsula was divided more than half a century ago. The summit produced wide-ranging accords calling for peace and outlining a series of joint projects.
Despite his party's stance toward the government's moves to engage North Korea, Lee has said he is willing to help Pyongyang revive its sickly economy if it abandons its nuclear programs and embraces reform and openness. He has said he will not shy away from criticizing North Korea's human rights record and that full-fledged economic exchanges can start only after Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear programs.
North Korea has pledged to declare all its nuclear programs by year's end under an international disarmament agreement. In exchange, Pyongyang was promised energy assistance and political concessions, including its removal from a U.S. terrorism blacklist. U.S. and South Korean officials have indicated that North Korea will probably not meet the deadline.