Pres­i­dent will al­low mon­i­tors for April vote

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

PHNOM PENH, CAM­BO­DIA | Myan­mar’s pres­i­dent con­firmed Wed­nes­day that his coun­try will al­low some for­eign elec­tion ob­servers, in­clud­ing from the United States and Europe, to mon­i­tor next month’s polls, con­sid­ered a cru­cial test of re­forms he has taken in the mil­i­tary-dom­i­nated coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Thein Sein, mak­ing an of­fi­cial visit to Cam­bo­dia, said each of the 10 mem­ber coun­tries of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions would be al­lowed to send two of­fi­cial del­e­gates to watch the April 1 by-elec­tions, ac­cord­ing to Cam­bo­dian gov­ern­ment spokesman Khieu Kan­harith.

“My pre­req­ui­site to meet Kim Jong-il or Kim Jongun has al­ways been the same: If they have a gen­uine in­ter­est to sit down and en­gage in di­a­logue, to open up North Korea to im­prove the qual­ity of life in North Korea,” said the South Korean leader, whose term in of­fice ends in Fe­bru­ary.

Kim Jong-un suc­ceeded his fa­ther, Kim Jong-il, as North Korea’s leader in Jan­uary, sev­eral weeks af­ter the fa­ther’s un­ex­pected death in De­cem­ber.

South Korea’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vice was crit­i­cized lo­cally for lack­ing prior in­for­ma­tion about the el­der Mr. Kim’s health, but no spy agency is thought to have pen­e­trated the highly se­cre­tive cor­ri­dors of North Korean power.

“There is a lot of anal­y­sis of what is go­ing on in North Korea,” said Mr. Lee, a for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer for the au­tomaker Hyundai and a for­mer mayor of Seoul. “But we need time to have a fuller picture.”

Turn­ing to the is­sue of se­cu­rity, Mr. Lee noted that the United States is “sym­pa­thetic” to South Korea’s hopes of ac­quir­ing a sur­face-to-sur­face mis­sile with a range ex­ceed­ing 186 miles.

The South’s cur­rent mis­sile force is ob­li­gated by in­ter­na­tional treaty, and by agree­ments with the United States, to the range lim­i­ta­tion.

Mean­while, Seoul will host the two-day 2012 Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Sum­mit, be­gin­ning Mon­day.

More than 50 world lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Obama, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Yoshi­hiko Noda will dis­cuss how to make nu­clear ma­te­ri­als and fa­cil­i­ties safe from ac­ci­dents and ter­ror­ism.

Although pro­lif­er­a­tion is not on the sum­mit agenda, North Korea is likely to dom­i­nate side­line dis­cus­sions. Mr. Obama re­port­edly is plan­ning to raise pres­sure on North Korea with Mr. Hu in bi­lat­eral dis­cus­sions along­side the sum­mit.

Mr. Lee talked to re­porters from The Washington Times, the Fi­nan­cial Times, the Wall Street Jour­nal, the Econ­o­mist, the Ja­panese daily news­pa­per Asahi and the South Korean daily Dong-a.

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