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(LEAD) Ex-Minjoo head remains ambiguous on 'Pyongyang collusion' controversy

2016/10/17 17:15

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 10-13; ADDS new details in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- Moon Jae-in, a former head of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK), said Monday he cannot remember details of the circumstances in 2007 regarding allegations that the then-administration consulted with Pyongyang on inter-Korean policies.

The remark came after ex-Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said in his latest memoir that South Korea actually consulted with Pyongyang before voting to abstain from a U.N. resolution critical of the North passed almost a decade ago. Moon had served as chief of staff to then-President Roh Moo-hyun.

"You should ask those who remember the details about the matter," Moon said, when asked if the allegations were true.

The memoir said Seoul abstained from the 2007 U.N. resolution on North Korea's dismal human rights situation after hearing Pyongyang's opinion, and that Moon was deeply involved in the process.

Moon, one of the potential contenders in next year's presidential race, said he will continue efforts to focus on improving the livelihoods of the people, regardless of the attacks from the ruling party.

"The Saenuri Party lives on the back of North Korea," Moon said. "They take pro-North debate and ideology as the engine of national affairs. This is why our economy is deteriorating, and why we need a change of regime."

   Moon added the MPK will continue to focus on revitalizing the economy, and find out the truth behind the suspicious fund-raising related to the Mir and K-Sports foundations.

The MPK also focused its efforts to defend Moon from the allegations, adding Saenuri is merely attempting to conceal its own problems by fueling the debate.

"The country is in a state of confusion, and Saenuri seems to have lost its reasoning," said Rep. Choo Mi-ae, head of the MPK, adding Saenuri must stop defaming the potential president candidate from the main opposition party.

Others in the liberal bloc have said that Seoul had informed Pyongyang of its decision after it reached the understanding to abstain. They said at the time, inter-Korean relations were stable enough to make it possible to send messages.

Kim Man-bok, a former head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), denied the allegation, adding Song should rather be charged with leaking confidential diplomatic information through the book.

Saenuri on the other hand, announced it will expand its taskforce created for the incident into a full committee so as to get to the bottom of all claims raised. The conservative party has raised suspicions that the opposition is trying to cover up the truth behind its "collusion" with the North and the people need to know the truth.

Song stood by the contents of the book earlier in the day, stressing that it is written based on facts. He added that politicians should utilize the content to start a sincere discussion on the unification of the two Koreas, rather than fighting over a single section of the book.

"The truth does not change," the former top diplomat said, emphasizing the book was not written with political intention. He said the book is about North Korean nukes and unification.

A government source, meanwhile, said there are no formal records that there was any communication between the South and North before or after Seoul abstained from the U.N. vote.

"Concerning the 2007 U.N. resolution, there are no records of exchange of documents through official inter-Korean communication channels," the insider confirmed.

Other sources, however, pointed out that unofficial channels could have been used by the NIS or those with ties to the North to maintain security.

Moon Jae-in, a former head of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (Yonhap) Moon Jae-in, a former head of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr

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