ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol delivers a speech during his news conference to mark his first 100 days in office at the presidential office in Seoul on Aug 17, 2022. (CHUNG SUNG-JUN / POOL / AFP)
SEOUL - Talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should not be for political show but contribute to establishing peace, Republic of Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday, speaking at a wide-ranging press conference to mark his first 100 days in office.
Yoon repeated his willingness to provide phased economic aid to DPRK if it ended nuclear weapons development and began denuclearization, noting that he had called for a dialogue with Pyongyang since his campaign.
Facing falling poll numbers and controversies over his picks for top ministers, Yoon was pressed by media on a range of issues including labour reform, housing shortages, and recovery from recent floods
"Any dialogue between the leaders of the South and North, or negotiations between main working-level officials, should not be a political show, but should contribute to establishing substantive peace on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia," he said.
The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea and the ROK as South Korea.
ROK was not in a position to guarantee the DPRK's security if it gave up its nuclear weapons, but Seoul did not want a forced change in the status quo in Pyongyang, Yoon said.
The DPRK's recent missile tests and nuclear development has revived debate over whether the ROK should pursue its own nuclear weapons. Yoon said that he was committed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and working with the United States to boost its "extended deterrence" for ROK.
"The NPT should not be abandoned and I will adhere to that until the end," he said.
Facing falling poll numbers and controversies over his picks for top ministers, Yoon was pressed by media on a range of issues including labour reform, housing shortages, and recovery from recent floods.
Since Yoon came to office in May, two strikes have cost industry more than US$1.6 billion, according to labour ministry and shipbuilder estimates, although neither involved a government suppression before ending.
The president said he would always allow time for dialogue and compromise before suppressing an illegal strike.
Yoon called for ending discrepancies between "workers who do the same job", such as between direct hires and contract workers, without elaborating on how.
He also touted major weapons sales including a deal last month with NATO-member Poland involving more than 1,600 tanks and howitzers, and nearly 50 fighter jets.
He declined, however, to say whether his government would change its policy of not directly providing lethal aid to Ukraine.
He said he believed that historical disputes with Japan dating back to its colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-1945 could be overcome and that the two countries needed to cooperate more closely on supply chain and economic security.
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