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S. Korea to keep policy stance over N.K. despite political turmoil: minister

2016/12/18 12:00

SEOUL, Dec. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will maintain its current policy stance toward North Korea and make efforts to prod the country into giving up its nuclear weapons, Seoul's point man on unification said Sunday.

Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo's remarks came as domestic political turmoil sparked by a corruption scandal allegedly involving President Park Geun-hye and the subsequent parliamentary impeachment have raised uncertainty over Seoul's ability to smoothly carry out state affairs.

Hong said that there will be no change in the government's position on its North Korea policy under an interim leadership of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.

"We will basically keep the existing policy stance and move toward our goals of North Korea's denuclearization and peaceful unification," Hong told reporters.

He said that the government will faithfully implement the latest U.N. sanctions, and continue to apply sanctions and pressure against Pyongyang for North Korea's denuclearization.

Hwang has become the acting president after the National Assembly overwhelmingly approved a motion to impeach Park on Dec. 9 over the influence-peddling scandal involving her long-time friend.

Park's key inter-Korean policy is called the Korean Peninsula Trust-Building Process, which calls for building mutual trust to pave the way for unification.

But North Korea's nuclear and missile tests earlier this year have made Seoul focus on pressure and sanctions although the government has not officially ditched Park's signature policy.

The United Nations Security Council adopted a new sanctions resolution last month to punish North Korea for its September nuclear test following its March imposition of tough sanctions.

"We are in the midst of a huge political turbulence (internally), but when it comes to North Korea's nuclear issue, the fresh sanctions have started to work," Hong said. "That's a big change. ... We will fully implement the sanctions and pump up efforts to make North Korea change its course."