Alexa

No sign of South Korean policy shift toward North

 Members of the opposition Democratic Party sleep as they set up barricades of furniture in front of the main hall of the National Assembly in Seoul, ...
 Striking journalists of the National Union of Media Workers show their cards during a rally demanding the ruling Grand National Party stop its attemp...
 South Korean President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech, laying out his government's main policy directives for the new year at Presidential House in ...

South Korea Political Tension

Members of the opposition Democratic Party sleep as they set up barricades of furniture in front of the main hall of the National Assembly in Seoul, ...

South Korea Political Tension

Striking journalists of the National Union of Media Workers show their cards during a rally demanding the ruling Grand National Party stop its attemp...

South Korea Koreas Tensions

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak delivers a speech, laying out his government's main policy directives for the new year at Presidential House in ...

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak indicated no softening of his hard-line stance on North Korea and vowed Wednesday to work closely with Washington to end the communist nation's nuclear ambitions.
Ties between the two Koreas have plunged to their lowest level in a decade since Lee took office in February, ending 10 years of liberal leadership and a "sunshine" policy that used aid as a way to foster good relations with the North.
Relations have improved considerably since the rivals put down their guns after their 1950-53 war, but they remain divided by one of the world's most heavily fortified borders. Their leaders have met twice in the last decade, and warming relations have led to three joint North-South projects.
But Lee, a pro-U.S. conservative, has questioned implementing the accords reached at the two summits without condition _ a stance that prompted the North to cut off ties with Seoul.
On Wednesday, Lee said he would not make any rash decisions.
"I will resolve North Korean issues from a long-term perspective and will not use inter-Korean relations for political purposes," he said in laying out his government's main policy directives for the new year.
The Unification Ministry said it will renew calls for talks with North Korea. The ministry also offered a set of economic projects, including the renovation of railways and roads in the North, if relations between the Koreas improve.
Analysts predict the impasse will stretch well into the new year unless South Korea adopts a more liberal policy toward the North.
And if Washington pursues direct talks with North Korea to resolve an international standoff over its nuclear program, South Korea will be under pressure to change its policy, said Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea expert at South Korea's Sejong Institute.
President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, has said he would be willing to hold direct talks with the North.
South Korea and five other nations have sought to coax North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006, to abandon its nuclear program by offering aid for disarmament. The process has been held up over verification of its past nuclear activities.
Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said South Korea will push for "substantial progress" by consulting closely with the Obama administration.
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Associated Press writers Jae-soon Chang and Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report.