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South Korea Wants "Stable Dialogue" With North

South Korea is attempting to secure a "stable" channel for communication with the North amid stepped-up regional efforts to prepare the way for resuming the moribund six-nation talks aimed at permanently shuttering Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, the Yonhap News Agency reported (see GSN, Nov. 3).

"I am making efforts to secure a stable dialogue channel with North Korea," South Korean Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said, adding that the South's longstanding alliance with the United States formed the basis for that endeavor.

Yu, speaking to analysts in Washington, differentiated the efforts to establish a formal channel from the past "sunshine policy" of previous South Korean administrations that awarded significant amounts of economic assistance to the North in the hopes it would result in Pyongyang deciding to denuclearize. The Lee Myung-bak government reversed course on the sunshine policy in early 2008 on the grounds it had not resulted in any serious changes by the Stalinist state.

"The South Korean government will keep its principled approach on North Korea. However, I am also looking for ways to increase flexibility in nonpolitical areas," Yu said in remarks at a Council on Foreign Relations event.

Yu said Seoul would focus on lowering tensions with the North and "to create an environment for the two Koreas to come together to resolve pending issues."

Seoul is seeking a third round of bilateral talks with Pyongyang. The two nations' top nuclear negotiators have already met twice this year.

"North Korea should show its sincerity on denuclearization and it must take responsible measures regarding past military provocations," Yu said, referring to two 2010 attacks that killed 50 South Koreans.

Seoul is demanding that Pyongyang acknowledge its complicity in the two strikes that brought inter-Korean relations to their lowest point in decades. "That will be the starting point in building a healthy relationship between the two Koreas," Yu said.

Yu was in the U.S. capital to confer with Obama administration officials and U.S. policymakers on the Seoul-Washington approach to engagement with the North (Yonhap News Agency/Korea Times, Nov. 4).

The two allies are scheduled next week to conduct a bilateral visioning exercise aimed at developing policies for deterring North Korea from future hostilities, Yonhap reported.

The theoretical tabletop scenario is to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the U.S. Strategic Command. It is a product of the efforts of the bilateral Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

"At this exercise, the allies will conduct drills on cooperation and the decision-making process between them and on using extended deterrence measures to counter a North Korean nuclear crisis," the South said. "South Korea and the U.S. will strengthen their information sharing regarding extended deterrence and improve their mutual understanding on responses to nuclear crises, hence bolstering the allies' deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and weapons of mass destruction threats" (Yonhap News Agency II, Nov. 4).

Meanwhile, the new U.S. ambassador to the South is slated to begin his new job next week after he was sworn in at the State Department on Thursday, Yonhap reported.

Ambassador Sung Kim was formerly Washington's representative to the six-party talks aimed at permanent North Korean denuclearization (Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency III, Nov. 4).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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