South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak says he continues to see an opportunity for better relations with North Korea following the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il.
In a New Year’s address on January 2, Lee said South Korea was “leaving the window of opportunity open” for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
He called on North Korea -- which is now under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, son of the late leader -- to show “sincerity,” warning that South Korea would “respond strongly if provoked.”
"If North Korea comes forward with sincerity, we will be able to open a new era for the Korean Peninsula together. Through dialogue, we should get rid of distrust between each other and move toward mutual existence and prosperity," Lee said.
Lee also called on the North to freeze all work toward nuclear weapons to enable six-nation international negotiations with the North to resume.
The South Korean leader’s address came days after Kim Jong Un was named supreme commander of North Korea’s military, consolidating his leadership of the North following the December 17 death of Kim Jong Il.
North Korea’s official media recently denounced the South Korean president as a traitor to all Koreans and a puppet of the United States.
compiled from agency reports