Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Korea to North Korea: Learn from Myanmar

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

South Korea to North Korea: Learn from Myanmar

Article excerpt

South Korea's President Lee made a historic visit to Myanmar this week to boost long-frozen relations - and send a message to North Korea about the benefits of coming in from the cold.

On May 14, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited Myanmar, partly with the aim of using the formerly isolated country as an example to North Korea of how it might benefit from improved relations with Seoul and the international community.

This week, in what some are calling a watershed event, President Lee became the first South Korean leader to visit Myanmar (also called Burma) since 1983, when an assassination attempt on the then- leader Chun Doo-hwan put relations into a deep freeze. Relations between Seoul and Yangon are only now showing signs of recovery.

President Lee held an extensive session with Myanmar President U Thein Sein where the two discussed issues related to North Korea. According to Kim Tae-hyo, South Korea's senior presidential secretary for national security strategy, Lee promised more South Korean assistance if Myanmar ended its military cooperation with Pyongyang. Thein Sein reportedly agreed to cease arms purchases from North Korea as well as join international condemnation of its provocative acts.

South Korea is apparently willing to share lessons with Myanmar from its own transition from dictatorship to functioning, free- market democracy.

South Korea's leadership is hopeful that North Korea is watching Myanmar closely. "We want to tell North Korea that it must learn a lesson from Myanmar to cooperate with the international community and receive aid for development," said Mr. Kim.

Thein Sein pledged to honor the UN nonproliferation treaty and UN Security Council resolution 1874, which was passed unanimously in 2009 after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon. Resolution 1874 prescribes sanctions on commerce and arms trading with North Korea. …

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