South Korea set to re­sume talks with North

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

SEOUL: The new South Korean gov­ern­ment un­der Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in is plan­ning to re­sume eco­nomic co-oper­a­tion with North Korea and le­galise an in­ter-Korean agree­ment.

The move was un­veiled yes­ter­day in a five-year plan for state man­age­ment in­au­gu­rated on May 10, ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­den­tial Blue House.

Dur­ing his five-year term, Moon is plan­ning to re­sume eco­nomic co-oper­a­tion with Py­ongyang, while pur­su­ing a so-called “new eco­nomic roadmap in the Korean Penin­sula” as part of a growth en­gine for the econ­omy.

The new roadmap refers to the cre­ation of three eco­nomic belts in the penin­sula, in­clud­ing an en­ergy belt in the East Sea, a lo­gis­tics belt in the West Sea and a tourism belt in­side the de­mil­i­tarised zone that di­vides the two Koreas.

The South Korean gov­ern­ment will also con­sider nor­mal­is­ing the Kaesong In­dus­trial Com­plex and re­sum­ing tours of Mount Kum­gang as part of the five-year plan.

The in­ter-Korean fac­tory park in the North Korean bor­der town of Kaesong was closed down un­der the Park Geun-hye gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing Py­ongyang’s fourth nu­clear test last Jan­uary.

Tours to the North’s scenic re­sort of Mount Kum­gang, launched in 1998, were sus­pended in July 2008 when a South Korean fe­male tourist was shot dead by a North Korean sol­dier af­ter al­legedly ven­tur­ing into an off-lim­its area.

To re­solve pend­ing is­sues be­tween the two Koreas, Seoul plans to re­store com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels with Py­ongyang and re­sume talks about mil­i­tary and hu­man­i­tar­ian af­fairs, sports and cul­tural ex­changes, and eco­nomic co-oper­a­tion.

The Moon gov­ern­ment will push for a new “ba­sic agree­ment” with the North while re­spect­ing ex­ist­ing in­ter-Korean agree­ments, and will seek to le­galise the new agree­ment by get­ting ap­proval in the Na­tional Assem­bly and sup­port at the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly.

The push for the new agree­ment will be made through bi-par­ti­san co-oper­a­tion when the right con­di­tions have been cre­ated, ac­cord­ing to the five-year plan.

On Mon­day, Seoul of­fered to hold talks with Py­ongyang about a re­union event and mil­i­tary af­fairs, but the North has yet to re­spond.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

A jour­nal­ist takes a pho­to­graph of a South Korean sol­dier stand­ing guard at the truce vil­lage of Pan­munjom, South Korea, yes­ter­day.

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