Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung announces his foreign policy plans at the home of former President Kim Dae-jung in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap News)
Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, the Democratic Party frontrunner for next year’s presidential election, announced a “vision for reunification diplomacy” on Sunday, which included practical diplomatic efforts focused on the national interest and establishing a “peace economy” on the Korean Peninsula.
“I intend to realize new, full-scale changes based on the groundwork of inter-Korean relations established by the Moon Jae-in administration,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference that day at the home of the late former President Kim Dae-jung in Seoul, Lee said, “There needs to be more practical change in direction that helps the growth and development of South and North [Korea] alike.”
As solutions to the North Korean nuclear issue, he suggested the easing of sanctions through a snapback approach, along with simultaneous action on a step-by-step basis.
He said that this approach would involve “North Korean denuclearization measures and corresponding relief in North Korea sanctions happening simultaneously in stages, with the understanding that the restores would be immediately restored if North Korea fails to keep its denuclearization promises.”
Lee also said he would “meet personally with [US President Joe] Biden and [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un to resolve issues.”
Emphasizing his commitment to carrying on the Moon administration’s “driver’s seat” approach to Korean Peninsula issues, Lee said he planned to play the “role of mediator and problem-solver proactively and with a sense of agency.”
He also said he intends to “carry on and develop further the Kim Dae-jung administration’s Sunshine Policy, the Roh Moo-hyun administration’s peace and prosperity policy, and Moon Jae-in administration’s Korean Peninsula peace process.”
To achieve this, he said he plans to pursue humanitarian assistance and healthcare cooperation with North Korea, while working to persuade the UN to waive sanctions for the Kaesong Industrial Complex and railway-related cooperation and attempting to organize periodic reunions among divided family members and inter-Korean hometown visits.
Lee added there is the need for “practical diplomatic efforts focused on the national interest.”
“There is no reason for us to limit our own room to maneuver by picking one side [between the US and China],” he said.
Commenting on his plans for relations with Japan, he said he plans to “adopt a ‘two-track strategy’ of responding firmly on matters related to history, territorial sovereignty, and South Korean lives and safety while actively pursuing exchange and cooperation in economic, social, and diplomatic terms.”
By Song Chae Kyung-hwa, staff reporter
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