President's Remark on Inter-Korean Relations
Excerpts from Address by President Lee Myung-bak on the opening of the 18th national assembly
For Coexistence and Coprosperity
Fellow Koreans and members of the National Assembly
I would like to make myself very clear. The highest priority of my Administration s North Korea policy is to ensure the denuclearization of North Korea and in tandem, we will seek mutual benefit and co-prosperity of the two Koreas.
In the interest of genuine reconciliation and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula, it is essential that the North Korean nuclear issue be first resolved
Recently, North Korea submitted a declaration regarding its nuclear programs, and the Six-Party Talks have resumed. As such, we are making important and substantive progress in the denuclearization process. The Korean Government, along with all the other participants in the Six-Party Talks, will continue to do all it can to achieve complete denuclearization.
As the denuclearization process progresses, substantial cooperation between the two Koreas will be rejuvenated. This will, in turn, open an age of the Korean Peninsula, with both parts of the country thriving together.
I hereby make the following proposals to North Korea.
Full dialogue between the two Koreas must resume.
The South Korean Government is willing to engage in serious consultations on how to implement the inter-Korean agreements made so far, including the July 4 Joint Communiqué, the Basic Agreement between the South and North, the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, South-North Joint Declaration of June 15, 2000 and the October 4, 2007 Summit Declaration between the leaders of the two Koreas.
At the same time, I propose engaging in inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation.
From a humanitarian and fraternal standpoint, the Korean Government is ready to cooperate in efforts to help relieve the food shortage in the North as well as alleviate the pain of the North Korean people. The issues involving South Korean POWs, separated families and South Korean abductees should be resolved as well.
The South Korean POWs and the members of the first generation of separated families are now in their 70s and 80s. Therefore, it is the obligation of both Koreas to allow them to travel between the two sides. These people should be allowed to meet with their long-separated family members and return to their hometowns. This is a moral obligation.
In inter-Korean relations, we need a new thinking and a new direction. Based on the spirit of mutual benefit, we must move from an "age of declarations" to an "age of implementation."
Inter-Korean relations should transcend changeovers in administrations and be pursued from a future-oriented perspective for all the Korean people. The Administration will carry out unification policies keeping all these things in mind and on the basis of bipartisan cooperation and with the support and consensus of the public.