S. Korea should diversify options for N.K. policy: ex-adviser to Moon

SEOUL-- South Korea should expand the spectrum of its North Korea policy to have wider options for engagement that could help bring North Korea to the dialogue table, an expert said Thursday.

Choi Jong-kun, who played a key role in devising President Moon Jae-jin's campaign pledges regarding North Korea issues, made the remark during a security policy forum co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the Ministry of Unification.

"Over the past nine years under (President Moon Jae-in's) predecessors, South Korea worked on a lot of details of sanctions and pressure against the North. These details need to be maintained and amplified," the professor at Yonsei University said at the first session of the conference.

"But at the same time, we need to diversify options for engagement with North Korea to induce North Korea into coming to the negotiation table."

Moon has vowed to take a dual-track approach of seeking North Korea's denuclearization while pushing for inter-Korean dialogue.

Earlier this month, the president said that Seoul is willing to resume talks if North Korea does not make additional nuclear and missile provocations. But North Korea has rejected Seoul's offer, claiming that dialogue cannot go together with sanctions.

"The government should keep joining the global front in applying sanctions and pressure, but we also keep the stance of seeking dialogue and engagement," Choi said.

He proposed three-phased six-party denuclearization talks, each aimed at a freeze, reduction and irreversible dismantlement.

Han Yong-sup, a professor at Korea National Defense University, said that South Korea needs to craft a deterrence strategy to effectively counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

"To deter North Korea from making provocations should first come before slapping sanctions against North Korea or holding inter-Korean dialogue," he said.

During the campaign trail, Moon announced plans to activate the country's independent missile defense network, called the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), and the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system as early as possible.

Kim Nam-jung, head of the unification office at Seoul's ministry handling inter-Korean affairs, said that Seoul is mulling over ways to reflect opinions from the civil society in setting the government's North Korea policy.

Moon earlier said that he will seek to solve North Korea's nuclear issue and pursue economic cooperation by building new economic belts with North Korea.

He also presented the formation of an integrated market over the long term and a vision for clinching a new inter-Korean basic agreement.

"The government will seek North Korea's denuclearization and better inter-Korean relations in parallel," he said. "In this process, it would be critical to strengthen South Korea's role in resolving issues on the peninsula."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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