Prime minister vows to step up peace efforts on Korean War anniversary
SEOUL, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Monday reaffirmed the government's resolve to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establish peace, as the nation marked the 68th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.
"I believe peace and prosperity are the best reward to those from the country and other nations who fought in the war," the prime minister said in the official anniversary ceremony.
"(The government) will go straight toward the establishment of peace and joint prosperity on the Korean Peninsula with faith and patience despite any obstacles," he added.
Lee's remarks came amid an apparent thaw in inter-Korean relations following two historic summits between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, held April 27 and May 26.
The divided Koreas have since held a series of working-level talks and have agreed to hold their first reunion of separated families in nearly three years.
Prime Minister Lee sought to honor all, including foreign soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting in defense of South Korea.
"Sixty-eight years ago today, the Korean Peninsula was engulfed in the terrible disaster of a war prompted by North Korea's southward invasion. Soldiers from not only South Korea and North Korea but 16 other countries, including the United States, fought the war while Chinese soldiers also jumped into the war," Lee said.
"Women also fought at the frontline and in the rear. Numerous students picked up weapons instead of books, while young overseas Koreans came to save their nation," he added.
The prime minister said the government will work to honor surviving war veterans.
"The government is doing its utmost to honor those who fought in the war. It will continue to identify and honor war veterans who are still alive. It will also step up its efforts to find the remains of those killed in the war through close cooperation with North Korea," he said.
The North has returned the remains of over 200 U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War under an agreement reached at a historic summit between its leader and U.S. President Donald Trump, held in Singapore on June 12.
Lee expressed hope the two Koreas may soon begin a joint excavation in the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the countries.
"If excavation begins in the Demilitarized Zone, it may also help find the remains of foreign soldiers who fought in the war," he said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency