Dis­pute slows pos­i­tive trend on Korean Penin­sula

Py­ongyang slams ROK pres­i­dent for un­nec­es­sary war­like com­ments

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By ZHOU WA zhouwa@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Seoul and Py­ongyang threw cold wa­ter on the pos­i­tive mo­men­tum of re­la­tions on the Korean Penin­sula on Tues­day, while China and other par­ties con­tin­ued ef­forts to me­di­ate be­tween the two sides.

The Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea took a ver­bal swipe at the Repub­lic of Korea on Tues­day, say­ing that re­marks made by ROK Pres­i­dent Park Geun- hye on the eve of her coun­try’s joint mil­i­tary drill with the United States were un­nec­es­sar­ily war­like and had harmed the at­mos­phere of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion on the penin­sula.

How­ever, an­a­lysts said that the ex­change of words would not harm rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ef­forts, and that a cer­tain amount of ten­sion was to be ex­pected be­tween the ROK and DPRK as they at­tempt to build mu­tual trust.

Py­ongyang ob­jected to com­ments made by Park to her National Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Mon­day, which met as the an­nual joint US-ROK ex­er­cise be­gan.

She urged ROK of­fi­cials to get “com­bat-ready, re­gard­less of change in south-north re­la­tions and the sit­u­a­tion in sur­round­ing ar­eas” and said “it is nec­es­sary to get ready for a war to en­sure peace”, the Yon­hap news agency said.

A spokesman for the DPRK’s Com­mit­tee for the Peace­ful Re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Korea de­nounced Park’s re­marks in a state­ment on Tues­day, say­ing the com­ments “chill the hard­won at­mos­phere of dia­logue be­tween the north and the south and go against the trend of the times for peace”.

He urged Seoul au­thor­i­ties not to mis­judge the sin­cer­ity and pa­tience of Py­ongyang.

The reaction of the DPRK was muted in con­trast with pre­vi­ous years, said an­a­lysts. On past oc­ca­sions, Py­ongyang might have di­rectly crit­i­cized Seoul for hold­ing joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with the US, and so in con­trast, its re­sponse to Park’s words was mild.

The ex­change has not hin­dered the on­go­ing ef­forts of China and other par­ties to en­sure peace and sta­bil­ity on the penin­sula.

For­mer se­nior of­fi­cials and aca­demics from China and the ROK held a fo­rum on Tues­day in Bei­jing to dis­cuss the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion is­sue on the penin­sula, Yon­hap said.

On Mon­day, China’s top po­lit­i­cal ad­viser Yu Zheng­sheng also held talks on the nu­clear is­sue with the vis­it­ing ROK of­fi­cials and aca­demics, who were led by for­mer ROK prime min­is­ter Lee Soo-sung.

Mean­while, the US State Depart­ment spe­cial en­voy for hu­man rights in the DPRK Robert King is pay­ing a visit to China to dis­cus DPRK-re­lated is­sues.

Fol­low­ing King, United Na­tions chief Ban Ki-moon will pay a visit to the ROK and hold talks with Park.

The eased sit­u­a­tion on the Penin­sula of­fers a fa­vor­able at­mos­phere for all par­ties to make new me­di­a­tion ef­forts on the is­sue, said Wang Fan, an in­ter­na­tional af­fairs pro­fes­sor at China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity.

The DPRK has sent its first draft of a doc­u­ment sug­gest­ing a joint com­mit­tee to dis­cuss re­open­ing the in­dus­trial park in Kaesong. An of­fi­cial in Seoul said there were not many dif­fer­ences be­tween the two sides.

“Seoul has ex­am­ined the first draft sent by Py­ongyang and con­firmed it is not too dif­fer­ent from the gen­eral plan be­ing pur­sued by our govern­ment,” Yon­hap cited the of­fi­cial as say­ing.

Af­ter con­sid­er­ing Py­ongyang’s pro­posal and adding a few ideas, Seoul will be able to send a re­vised draft back to Py­ongyang, he added.

This comment re­veals that a land­mark agree­ment to re­open the in­dus­trial park is in the pipe­line, bring­ing the par­ties closer to an early nor­mal­iza­tion of the in­dus­trial zone, com­mented the agency.

The gen­eral trend on the Korean Penin­sula is to­ward an eas­ing of re­la­tions be­tween the two par­ties, said Chen Qi, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions from Ts­inghua Univer­sity. How­ever, he said it is too early to say whether the ROK and the DPRK can even­tu­ally move their re­la­tion­ship to a new level.

Con­sid­er­ing the fric­tion, the two sides should avoid provoca­tive words and ac­tions, he added.

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