In an annual report to President Roh Moo-hyun, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said Seoul will seek to enhance inter-Korean relations in tandem with efforts to resolve the protracted standoff over the North's nuclear programs.
Chung said South Korea has been able to manage the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula over the past year despite a rapidly changing security environment.
“But it is a pity the nuclear problems have not been resolved yet and government-level talks between the two Koreas have been stalled,” he was quoted as saying.
Inter-Korean relations have cooled over the past nine months. Pyongyang cancelled all government-level meetings in July after Seoul airlifted more than 460 North Korean defectors to the South. Talks finally resumed earlier this month when the North agreed on a meeting to discuss joint measures to deal with an outbreak of bird flu in the communist state.
The ministry report listed “peace,” “co-prosperity” and “harmony” as the three watchwords defining its policy directions for 2005.
Expanding inter-Korean exchanges and promoting understanding of the government's North Korea policy both at home and abroad were among its major policy goals.
But the report also said South Korea will pursue a healthy, reciprocal relationship with the North in which both sides keep their promises.
The annual report also outlined plans to carry out more joint projects in historical research, such as the excavation of relics from the Goguryeo period (37 B.C.-668). The collaboration comes in response to Chinese claims of the ancient kingdom as part of its history, and not Korea's.
Increased agricultural exchanges and continued development of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, an inter-Korean business venture just north of the Demilitarized Zone, would also be pursued, the report said.