Published : 2013-01-25 20:37
Updated : 2013-01-25 20:37
President-elect Park Geun-hye plans to send a high-level delegation to the United States for policy consultations on North Korea, the alliance between the two countries and other pending issues, officials said Friday.
Rep. Lee Hahn-koo, floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, will visit the U.S. in the near future as head of a “policy consultation delegation” that includes three members of the transition team and government officials, said Park Sun-kyoo, a spokesman for the president-elect.
The U.S. has welcomed the planned visit and the two sides are discussing details, such as timing and itinerary, he said, declining to give specifics, including whether the delegation plans to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.
“As both countries are ushering in new governments, (the two sides) are expected to discuss policy directions of the new governments, ways to strengthen relations between the two countries and other issues of common interest,” the spokesman said.
The upcoming trip comes as tensions are spiking after North Korea threatened a nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches in anger over a recent U.N. Security Council resolution that condemned Pyongyang’s Dec. 12 rocket launch and tightened sanctions on it.
On Friday, the North also warned of “strong physical counter-measures” against South Korea if Seoul takes part in U.N. sanctions on it, saying that sanctions mean “a war and a declaration of war against us.”
Other members of the delegation include Rep. Na Seong-lin of the ruling party, transition team foreign policy experts Lee Chung-min and Hong Yong-pyo and Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun, he said.
Floor leader Lee was chosen to lead the delegation as he is well aware of Park’s foreign policy philosophy, and Lee and Hong of the transition team were also deeply involved in formulating Park’s campaign promises, the spokesman said.
The spokesman declined to talk about specific topics of discussion, but they are expected to include a possible summit between Park and Obama in the first half of this year, tensions over North Korea and other outstanding issues between the two countries.
Rep. Lee told reporters that he plans to discuss a broad range of issues, such as the economy, North Korea, foreign policy and international politics, adding that the trip is aimed at shaping policy outlines.
Meanwhile, Rep. Rhee In-je, Park’s special envoy to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said Park will not tolerate North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and will respond firmly to any additional provocations from the communist country.
He made the remarks in a briefing in Davos to the foreign press while outlining the incoming president’s policies on North Korea.
“President-elect Park has proposed a ‘Korean Peninsula trust process’ as a real solution to the North Korea issue,” Rhee said.
“If there is trust, the two Koreas can do a lot together, and if the trust accumulates, that could provide the key to solving the North Korean nuclear issue.”
Earlier this week, former lawmaker and close aide Kim Moo-sung visited Beijing as a special envoy of Park and met with China’s next leader Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other top officials.
The envoy, a six-term lawmaker of Park’s ruling Saenuri Party and a co-chief of her presidential campaign last year, added that the president-elect is open to dialogue with the North and will provide food and medical aid to the North Korean people.
“(We) hope North Korea chooses to take the right path through inter-Korean dialogue and trust,” Rhee said. “Our efforts are not enough on their own. The international community should join forces to lead North Korea to choose change and become a responsible member of the international community.”
The envoy also spoke about the incoming government’s economic policies, saying Park’s key aim is to attain sustainable economic growth through innovations in science and technology.
Park’s government reorganization plan includes the creation of a “ministry of future creation and science” to handle relevant policies and projects.
Rhee also outlined Park’s commitment to rebuilding the middle class, creating jobs and fulfilling South Korea’s role and responsibilities as a middle power in the world. (Yonhap News)