Lee: Seoul willing to talk to DPRK

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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said in his New Year's speech Monday that the door for inter-Korean dialogue remains open, but stressed that "any provocation" by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will not be tolerated.

"I remind the North that the path toward peace is yet open. The door for dialogue is still open," said Lee, who recently voiced support for resuming stalled negotiations aimed at dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear program in a reversal of his previous opposition to the imminent resumption of the talks. "If the North exhibits sincerity, we have both the will and the plan to drastically enhance economic cooperation together with the international community," he said.

Lee: Seoul willing to talk to DPRK

South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak speaks to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul January 3, 2011. [China Daily via Agencies]

"Nuclear weapons and military adventurism must be discarded. The North (DPRK) must work toward peace and cooperation not only with rhetoric but also with deeds," Lee added.

"Any provocation (by the DPRK) that would pose a threat to our lives and property will not be tolerated. Such provocation will be met with stern, strong responses," Lee said.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula were heightened after South Korea and DPRK exchanged artillery fire near Yonphyong Island on Nov. 23, which resulted in the death of four South Koreans. Recently, Seoul had also conducted a series of military drills.

Meanwhile, three leading DPRK newspapers issued a joint New Year editorial Saturday, stressing the country's will to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK is "consistent in its stand and will to achieve peace in Northeast Asia and the denuclearization of the whole of the Korean peninsula," said the editorial jointly issued by the newspapers Rodong Sinmun, Joson Inmingun and Chongnyon Jonwi.

The editorial said the confrontation between the North and South should be defused as early as possible and the DPRK would launch a more determined campaign to improve inter-Korean relations and reunify the country under the slogan "Let all Koreans in the North, South and abroad join efforts and bring a new phase of independent reunification."

It urged South Korean authorities to scrap the policy of confrontation and respect the June 15 Joint Declaration and the Oct. 4 Declaration. It also called for "active efforts" to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation between the North and South by placing their common interests above anything else.

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