- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

SEOUL — South Korea’s president said he plans to make many concessions to communist North Korea and provide it with unconditional aid in an effort to build trust, his office said yesterday.

President Roh Moo-hyun made the announcement as his predecessor, Kim Dae-jung, prepared to visit the North to meet with its leader, Kim Jong-il, in the hope that the trip will lead to a breakthrough in stalled six-nation talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

“I’m going to make a lot of concessions [to North Korea],” Mr. Roh told South Korean residents during a visit to Mongolia on Tuesday, according to a transcript provided by the presidential office yesterday.

“I’m going to provide institutional and material aid without conditions,” he said.

Mr. Roh said the South, which is wealthier and has a stronger military, should make concessions to dispel the mistrust that still exists between the two neighbors more than five decades after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Mr. Roh’s comments were “an expression of will that the [South Korean] government should play a more active role in finding a breakthrough on the current stalled situation,” Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok told reporters yesterday.

Although the two Koreas technically remain at war, they made strides toward reconciliation after a 2000 summit between South Korean President Kim and the North Korean leader. South Korea has become one of the main aid providers to the impoverished North and has initiated several economic development projects.

However, the two Koreas’ relations have been affected by the international standoff over the North’s nuclear program, with the South joining forces with the United States, China, Japan and Russia in pressuring the communist regime to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.

Mr. Roh said he has high expectations for Mr. Kim’s planned June trip to the North, because it could provide a chance for a “flexible dialogue” with Kim Jong-il.

Mr. Roh also indicated a desire to hold his own meeting with the North Korean leader.

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