South Korean President Roh Tae Woo called Tuesday for a peace conference between North and South Korea, with the United States, the Soviet Union, China and Japan also taking part.
Making the first address ever by a South Korean leader to the U.N. General Assembly, Roh offered to sign a treaty of nonaggression or non-use of force, an idea that North Korea has suggested frequently in the past but that the south has always rejected.
At the same time, Roh, speaking to a full house, asked the backing of the world organization to speed the day “when the wall of separation on the Korean Peninsula will fall and harmony will prevail.”
First Trip Abroad
In making his first trip abroad as president, Roh is hoping to build global support for reunification efforts with North Korea. He said that hopes for reunifying his country with the north surged after what he called the “most successful Olympics ever held,” the 24th Summer Games that concluded in Seoul earlier this month.
“We are determined to pursue a relationship with North Korea,” Roh declared.
In addition, he said, reform policies in Beijing and Moscow may lead to the superpowers exercising a positive influence on Korean relations.
“I welcome as an encouraging development the fact that socialist countries such as China and the Soviet Union are showing a forward-looking attitude in recent months concerning mutual exchanges and cooperation with the Republic of Korea,” he said.
The six-nation conference that Roh proposed to draft a permanent settlement of the Korean War was more specific than earlier proposals. According to a Japanese official here, including Japan was a new element, done with Tokyo’s advance approval.
“We are encouraged by the new effort to organize a dialogue,” this official said, speaking on the condition that he not be named. “Up to now, it’s been a history of one side making proposals and the other side rejecting them and making counterproposals.”
Roh repeated his earlier proposals to go to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean President Kim Il Sung and to open trade ties across the border. All cross-border contact is still technically treasonable under South Korean law, but Park Dong Jin, Seoul’s ambassador to Washington, indicated at a briefing that his government is prepared to sweep away such legal bars.
Free Exchanges Urged
In his speech, Roh also reiterated that he has proposed not only the reunification of divided families but also “free exchanges among political, economic and religious leaders as well as ordinary citizens.”
“We want to put as many incentives on the table as we can,” another South Korean official said.
Soviet Bloc and Chinese delegations applauded Roh and later attended a reception for him given by U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar. Conspicuously absent from the social event were the North Koreans, although they earlier had occupied their seats in the General Assembly hall. Officials for the north are scheduled to speak today.