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(Yonhap Editorial) P'yang should grab Seoul's olive branch
SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- Seoul has proposed talks with Pyongyang amid a deluge of belligerent threats from the unpredictable communist country, including nuclear and missile attacks, which have escalated tension on the Korean Peninsula and stoked grave concerns among the international community.

   South Korean President Park Geun-hye made the proposal on Thursday, while stressing once again, "(My) 'Korean Peninsula Trust Process' should be put into motion."
The trust process is her campaign promise seeking wider and deeper exchanges and dialogue with Pyongyang with the hopes of building inter-Korean trust and thereby co-prosperity.

   In the three-stage process, the South Korean government would provide humanitarian aid to the North in the first stage, seek lower-level economic cooperation in the agriculture and forestry sectors at the second stage, and push for massive economic investment in North Korea's infrastructure such as communications and transportation at the third stage.

   Earlier in the day, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, the point man on North Korea, also urged Pyongyang to come forward for talks on the normalization of the inter-Korean factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong whose operations were one-sidedly halted by the North on Tuesday.

   Such an olive branch is a significant departure from the Park government's original stance that inter-Korean dialogue will only be available once the North changes its bellicose tone.

   In fact, the unification minister expressed a negative response on Monday to the opposition camp's calling for dialogue with Pyongyang, saying it's questionable whether the North will sincerely accept the proposal.

   Kim Jang-soo, Park's national security chief secretary, also warned that any proposal could give the North the wrong signal that the South is finally yielding to its threats and intimidations.

   However, the government apparently has judged that it would be better to give the North the momentum in exchange for a realignment of its attitude.

   The international community has so far voiced deep concerns over the North's brinkmanship, and has persistently called for it to act with calm.
U.S. President Barack Obama also called for the North to control itself after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Washington on Thursday, saying "Nobody wants to see a conflict on the Korean Peninsula."

   Even China and Russia, the North's long-standing allies, are critical of its repeated provocative acts.

   Thursday was the first anniversary of Kim Jong-un's inauguration as the general secretary of the North's Workers' Party. One year ago, the young North Korean leader pledged to improve the lives of his people.

   However, no signs of improvement in the North Korean economy and the people's livelihood can be found.

   The problem lies in its nuclear weapons program. As long as the North clings to its atomic weapons, no outside investment will be made in the impoverished country.

   Pyongyang should immediately grab Seoul's olive branch, and come forward to the negotiating table.

   That would be the surest way to guarantee the stability of the North Korean regime and the restoration of its comatose economy.

  (END)
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