S Korea: ‘New era’ possible for Koreas
SEOUL - Agence France-Presse
North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un (2nd R) inspects a room in this photo.South Korea’s President Lee Myung-Bak said yesterday the divided peninsula is at a turning point after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, with opportunities to improve relations.
But Lee also vowed to hit back hard against any provocations from the North under the leadership of its young new chief Kim Jong-un, son of the late dictator. Lee, in a televised New Year address, said the peninsula’s political situation “is at a turning point. But there are new opportunities in the changes and uncertainties.” “We are leaving the window of opportunity open. We will be able to open the door for a new era in the Korean peninsula if North Korea shows sincerity,” he added.
Lee said the South “will respond strongly” to any aggression but also raised the prospect of “big changes” following the death. He said he hoped 2012 would be a milestone in years-long efforts to negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear weapons programs.