South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday he has 'high
hopes for a change in attitude' from North Korea and implied that
South Korea might consider significant aid for the North's
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday he would deign
to "hold a summit" with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il "if
necessary" amid "high hopes for a change in attitude" after months
President Lee, in a lengthy television interview on the eve of
the five-day lunar new year holiday, said North Korea must show its
"seriousness" and stop "military provocations" - the type of remark
that drew strong denunciations from Pyongyang earlier in his
This time, however, South Korea promptly followed up by agreeing
on North Korea's proposal for preliminary "working level" talks next
week between military officers. The talks, at the truce village of
Panmunjom on the line between the two Koreas, would be the first
since South and North Korean colonels met briefly on Sept. 30.
This time, the colonels, when they meet on Feb. 8, will have more
to talk about. They will be preparing for crucial negotiations
between defense ministers as requested by North Korea last month.
Lee's remarks implied that South Korea not only remained open to
dialogue with the North, but might even consider significant aid for
the North's dilapidated economy.
If North Korea "seeks sincere dialogue rather than military
provocations," Lee said, "we can have dialogue and resume economic
exchanges" - and also hold six-party talks.
View gallery: Who has nukes?
North Korea has been calling for renewal of six-party talks
"without preconditions" for several weeks in an effort to tone down
the level of confrontation engendered by its bombardment of
Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea on Nov. 23. Two South Korean
marines and two civilians died in that attack, which the North said
was a defensive response to what it claimed were marine artillery
exercises in its waters. North Korea has not said, however, if it's
willing to negotiate an end to its nuclear program as agreed on
Sept. 19, 2005, after the first round of the talks in Beijing.
Bait of economic aid
The bait of economic aid was believed to be growing more and more
tempting for North Korea while the North suffers through a
particularly harsh winter in which temperature have plunged to
record lows. …