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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 245 (January 17, 2013)
*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

President-elect Seeks Closer International Cooperation on North Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye has sought closer cooperation on the North Korean issue in a series of meetings with ambassadors from European countries this week.

   Park said on Jan. 14 she will work closely with Britain and France, especially in dealing with North Korea, as she met with the top envoys from the permanent member nations of the U.N. Security Council.

   "The issue of North Korea is very important in having peace take root not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in the entire Northeast Asian region," Park said during a meeting with French Ambassador Jerome Pasquier in her office in downtown Seoul. "I hope (the two countries) will cooperate more closely at the Security Council to help North Korea make the right choice and change."

   Park stressed that it is difficult for a country to develop itself unless it works with the international community as a responsible member, and she hopes South Korea and France will cooperate closely to help Pyongyang move in that direction.

   Starting this year, South Korea has been serving a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. France is one of the five veto-holding permanent members, along with the United States, Britain, China and Russia.

   In a separate meeting with British Ambassador Scott Wightman, Park said that South Korea and Britain have a lot to work on and discuss with each other in carrying out her campaign pledge to forge trust on the divided Korean Peninsula.

   Park made the remark after the British envoy said that his country has undertaken dialogue with North Korea through its embassy in Pyongyang about the standoff over its nuclear programs and its human rights conditions.

   Wightman said Britain has tried to show North Korea that the international community is not hostile toward the communist nation and will work with the Park administration to help it carry out a trust-building process with Pyongyang.

   Later on Jan. 14, Park also met with the ambassadors from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and several Middle Eastern nations.

   "ASEAN countries are important friends of South Korea and cooperation partners. South Korea considers relations with ASEAN nations very significant and will further strengthen diplomacy toward ASEAN," Park told the envoys.

   Park also said it is impressive that ASEAN countries have continued to post economic growth despite the global economic slump, and she hopes South Korea and ASEAN will further expand their economic cooperation.

   In her meeting with EU Ambassador Tomasz Kozlowski on Jan. 15 Park also expressed hope for EU's cooperation in resolving North Korean issues.

   "I hope to see the EU play a role in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula," she said, adding that the EU's experience at achieving integration could be applied to bring peace to the two Koreas as well as to the surrounding region.

   Park said she was pleased with how relations between the EU and South Korea have developed over the past half-century, especially since their free trade agreement took effect in 2011.

   Meanwhile, the basic direction of North Korea policies of South Korea's new government is likely to stick to the principle that North Korea's nuclear weapons programs should not be tolerated and its provocations should be effectively checked by the South's boosted security and defense capabilities although Park has expressed her intention to improve inter-Korean relations.

   Park has expressed her resolve that North Korea's nuclear weapons development should not be tolerated and that Seoul's security and national defense capabilities should be strengthened on a number of occasions. The basic direction of Park's North Korea policy is to forge trust between the two Koreas but only upon the condition that North Korea's provocation and nuclear development should be controlled.

   In her meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun on Jan. 10, Park made it clear that North Korea's nuclear weapons development cannot be tolerated, but she will leave open the doors for dialogue and humanitarian aid to the communist nation, a spokesperson said.

   Park also stressed that South Korea, China and other members of the international community should send a "consistent and clear message" to North Korea so as to make Pyongyang become a responsible member of the international community, Park's spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun said.

   The new government has a heap of pending issues concerning its policy for North Korea. Among them are imposing sanctions with international community on North Korea for its violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions by launching a long-range rocket in December last year; restoration of the severed dialogue channel between the two Koreas; lifting or easing of the "May 24 measures" and resumption of the inter-Korean tourism project on the North's scenic Mount Kumgang.

   The North's rocket launch succeeded in putting a satellite into orbit, a global security surprise that showed the provocative nation is closer to developing intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons as far as the United States.

   Seoul, Washington and others have condemned the rocket launch as a disguised test of missile technology that is banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions. But Pyongyang has claimed it was part of a peaceful space program.

   South Korea imposed the "May 24 measures" two months after the communist nation attacked and sank a South Korean warship in waters near the tense Yellow Sea border in March 2010.

   The sanctions cut off nearly all economic cooperation and ties between South and North Korea, except a joint industrial park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong.