South Korea’s President, Lee Myung-bak, has announced the regions willingness to have peaceful relations with North Korea.
In a televised New Year’s message, President Lee expressed that the new transition of leadership from Kim Jong-il to his son Kim Jong-un can be an opportunity to begin a conversation about ending tension between the Koreas.
“If North Korea comes forward with a sincere attitude, it will be possible for us to work together to open a new era,” Lee said, according to the Associated Press.
The Washington Post reported, Lee without mentioning Kim Jung-un by name, has offered the North financial support in exchange for relinquishing nuclear weapons. For years, the late Kim Jong-iI rejected the deal. Along with the deal, Lee still warned that he will react to any provoking acts by the North.
“As long as there continues to be a possibility of North Korean provocation we will maintain a watertight defense posture,” Lee said, according to msnbc.com.
Lee’s statement comes a day after the North called on its citizens to become “human shields” in their support for their new leader.
Communist North Korea and Capitalist South Korea have been at odds since their 1950- 1953 war ended in an armistice and no treaty has been made. The U.N. supported South Korea while China and the USSR supported the North. North Korea is sanctioned by the U.N. over 2010 deadly attacks on the South, and illegal arms dealings.
North Korea has said it wants to return to talks-for-aid, but continues to publicly test its nuclear weapons. In 2006, North Korea tested two atomic weapons. The Unites States and South Korea have insisted the North must prove it is willing to take steps toward nuclear disarmament before any such talks begin.
The upcoming year “will set a milestone for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue,” Lee said, according to The Washington Post.