South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) on Friday said that it will be pursuing trilateral economic cooperation with Moscow and Pyongyang in Russia’s Far East, while stressing that any project would not impune on international sanctions against the DPRK.
“[The new policy] is a project that can contribute to the realizing a new economy map of the Korean peninsula, aims to expand the territory of our economy by connecting the continent, South and North Korea, and to create an economic cooperation community in northeast Asia,” Lee Eugene, deputy spokesperson for the unification ministry, told media during a regular news briefing.
It will also “take into account the level of sanctions by the international community, public sentiment, improvement of inter-Korean relations and among others,” Lee added.
The “new economy map” idea was first proposed in Seoul’s five-year policy plan on July 19, and is divided into three sectors of what Seoul hopes will be inter-Korean development projects.
Moon on Thursday announced what he calls South Korea’s “New Northern Policy” for the Far East, in a keynote speech at the third Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, which he suggested might involve trilateral cooperation on a natural gas pipeline.
The South Korean President said successful joint-development in the Far East region would allow for “the fundamental resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue.”
“If North Korea sees northeast Asian countries successfully conducting economic cooperation, it will realize that participation in the development of the Russian Far East would be beneficial,” Moon said. “And the North will find that it is a path to achieve peaceful prosperity without possessing nuclear weapons.”
Both Moon and Putin said on Wednesday that economic cooperation between the two Koreas and Russia in the Far East could be a means to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
North Korea Minister of External Economic Relations Kim Yong Jae, who also attended the conference, said on Thursday that Pyongyang didn’t disagree with the proposal in principle, but would not support any concrete plans at the moment.
“We are not opposed to the trilateral cooperation [with Russia and South Korea], but this is not an appropriate situation for this to be implemented,” Kim said after Putin’s speech to the EEF, Russia’s Sputnik reported.
Tensions have been particularly high between North Korea and the U.S. since Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test on Sunday.
A South Korean expert said that the Moon administration should “look at the big picture” on trilateral cooperation.
“Seoul can establish favorable circumstances in terms of geographical factors surrounding the Korean peninsula,” Lee Chang-ju, a Ph.D. candidate at Fudan University, told NK News.
“The South can gain the advantage of establishing infrastructure and running businesses in Vladivostok by developing the region and building up industrial complex, and we can give room for the North to enter the business in the future.”
Lee, however, said there are some “barriers from the short-term perspective,” such as international sanctions on the North and EU and U.S. sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile, Seoul’s unification ministry declined to comment on reports in the JoongAng Ilbo that South Korean government would seek to increase funding for the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund (IKCF) by USD$2 billion.
The JoongAng Ilbo reported the Moon administration had reviewed raising the budget with the aim of establishing an industrial complex in the Rajin and Khasan regions of the DPRK.
Seoul’s proposal for the fiscal year 2018, the first by the Moon administration, in August said it would seek to allocate around KRW1.05 trillion (around USD$1.1 billion) to the IKCF, up 8.7 percent from 2017. The National Assembly must now approve the plan.
The IKCF was established in 1990, according to the official website of the Export-Import Bank of Korea, to “promote mutual understanding and socioeconomic interaction” between the two Koreas.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 639 words of this article.
Featured Image: Vladivostok 88 by Alexxx1979 on 2015-08-09 08:54:14