South Korea’s new president vows to help North Korea if it denies nuclear weapons

South Korea’s new president has vowed to help deliver a “bold” economic aid package to North Korea if Pyongyang agrees to begin dismantling its nuclear program, offering an olive branch that North Korea is unlikely to accept when he takes office.

Conservative Yoon Se-yeol delivered his inaugural speech at a ceremony in Seoul, succeeding liberal President Moon Jae-in and could face a direct challenge to the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on the divided peninsula.

Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program threatens not only South Korea’s security but every other country in the region, said Yoon, a former prosecutor who has never held public office, as he begins a single five-year term.

“The door to dialogue will remain open so that we can resolve this threat peacefully,” he said. “North Korea’s denuclearization will greatly contribute to lasting peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula and beyond.”

“If North Korea does begin to complete the process of denuclearization, we are ready to work with the international community on a bold plan that will greatly strengthen North Korea’s economy and improve the quality of life of its people,” he added. In his inaugural address, he offered no details on the plans he had in mind.

North Korea, which has resumed accelerated long-range missile tests this year after direct diplomacy with the United States broke down under President Trump, is unlikely to respond. North Korea’s Mr Kim recently warned that his regime would consider a pre-emptive nuclear launch if he believes North Korea’s fundamental national interests are threatened and rejects the Biden administration’s offer to resume direct talks.

Mr. Yoon, 61, acknowledged that South Korea, like other countries, faces challenges on many fronts beyond North Korea, including the COVID-19 pandemic, a fast-developing trade regime, rising inequality and standing firm in the competition between China Heel is Seoul’s largest trading partner, and the United States is South Korea’s main security guarantor. President Biden is expected to meet South Korea’s new president in Seoul next week as part of a previously planned diplomatic tour of Asia. Mr. Yin took office after narrowly defeating Democratic candidate Lee Jae-myung in the March 9 presidential election.

While Yin said during the campaign that he wanted to strengthen security ties with Washington, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that Beijing was ready to cooperate with South Korea’s new government, according to the Associated Press. Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan attended Yin Zheng’s inauguration in Seoul on Tuesday.

Closer to home, Seoul, too, is experiencing record-low growth, rising unemployment and an “expanding” wage and social polarization.

“Internal conflicts and discord are deepening, which is causing many of our compatriots to lose their sense of community and belonging,” Mr Yin declared. “The political process responsible for addressing and addressing these issues has failed because of the democratic crisis.”

South Korea is the 10th largest economy in the world, and with material success comes responsibility. Now is the time for Seoul to “play a bigger role commensurate with our status as a global leader,” said Mr. Yoon, who called on South Korea to promote universal values ​​and international norms based on freedom and respect for rights.

“We must play a greater role in expanding freedom and human rights, not only for ourselves but for others,” he said. “The international community wants us to do this [and] We must answer this call. “

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