World Bulletin/News Desk
South Korea is willing to discuss lifting sanctions placed on North Korea, according to Seoul’s unification minister Wednesday.
The sanctions in question were imposed in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship that claimed 46 lives – an incident that the North has denied responsibility for.
“It’s important for South and North Korea… to discuss [the sanctions] and resolve the matter,” Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers during an annual parliamentary audit.
Seoul’s apparent openness follows a surprise visit to South Korea on Saturday by a delegation of North Korean officials – including Pyongyang’s effective second-in-command Hwang Pyong-so.
Follow-up high-level talks between the two sides have been agreed for the coming weeks – and Ryoo did add the condition that the North should take a “responsible measure” – suggesting an admission of guilt and an apology from the North for 2010’s sinking.
The unification minister’s comments came on the same day that his government released a draft putting the cost of paving the way for reunification with North Korea at $500 billion.
That is the figure that Seoul feels would be needed to bring the North’s gross national income (GNI) to half the level of the South’s – which was 38 times greater than that of North Korea as of 2010.
South Korea’s GNI per capita was also reportedly nearly 19 times higher than the North’s in the same year – at $22,708 versus $1,214.
“Before unification, we need to help the North develop to a certain level in order to minimize the cost,” said Kim Yong-beom, a senior official at South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC).
Kim pointed to the German example to support his view, explaining that the gap between the Koreas is “too wide” compared with the difference between West and East Germany before their reunification in 1990.
But the FSC official also hailed Seoul’s blueprint as “the first time” that the South Korean government has dealt with the costs of preparing for reunification.
The two Koreas have been divided since after World War II, and are still technically at war as a peace treaty was never signed following the Korean War of 1950-53.
Last Mod: 08 Ekim 2014, 12:30