Sanctions, talks should go together to resolve N. Korean nuke issue: parliamentary speaker

SEOUL-- South Korea's parliamentary chief said Thursday both sanctions and dialogue should be on the table for exploring ways to stop North Korea's menacing pursuit of nuclear and missile weapons.

"Using both sanctions against North Korea and dialogue aimed at negotiations could only produce clues for resolving the North Korean problem," National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun said in his congratulatory speech at a forum on the Moon Jae-in administration's vision for peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

The forum was co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the Ministry of Unification.

"As the speaker of the National Assembly, I have consistently stressed that sanctions are only a means of correcting a problem, not a goal per se," Chung said.

On its part, the National Assembly will also do its utmost to back the administration's efforts to resolve the North Korean issue and build peace in Northeast Asia, he said.

In a separate congratulatory speech, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said the Moon administration' options are currently limited against the backdrop of North Korea's continuing military provocations. He stressed the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue may take a long time of patience from the South.

"Under the current reality, tensions overshadow peace on the Korean Peninsula because of North Korea's dangerous nuclear armament and reckless military provocations," the prime minister said.

"North Korea remains unfazed by the international community's strongest-ever sanctions and presaure ... and unmoved by South Korea's repeated suggestions of dialogue," Lee said.

Still, South Korea should not renounce the chance of dialogue with North Korea, the prime minister said, stressing that "the path to unification is like a long distance marathon" that may take endless patience.

Choo Mi-ae, the ruling Democratic Party's chairwoman, shed light on President Moon's two-step approach to the North Korean nuclear issue, whose first phase requires that North Korea freeze its nuclear capabilities, followed by the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program.

"Dialogue (with North Korea) needs to be opened first in order to achieve (the plan)," she said.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party's leader Chung Woo-taik called for more focus on bolstering the country's security against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

"Unification should be sought on the solid foundation of the South Korea-U.S. alliance as well as the robust security," Chung said. "North Korea's dismantlement of its nuclear and missile programs should be a must" for discussions on unification, he said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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