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(LEAD) S. Korean president calls on Pyongyang to accept 'trust building' process

All Headlines 12:52 June 06, 2013

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, June 6 (Yonhap) -- In a Memorial Day speech delivered at the Seoul National Cemetery on Thursday, President Park Geun-hye urged North Korea to accept her administration's "trust building" policy initiative that could open a new era of peace and hope on the peninsula.

The chief executive said actively participating in laying the foundation for inter-Korean trust is the road the North must take in the future. She pointed out that peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula is the wish of all 70 million Koreans and that as president she will do her utmost to meet such a goal.

She stressed at the gathering to honor all those who have made sacrifices to protect the country, and that Pyongyang must realize that its goal of simultaneously pushing forward economic construction while also furthering its nuclear ambitions will only isolate the country from the rest of the world.

The North Korean leader has repeatedly called for building up the economy and its nuclear weapons capability as the country's central policy objective, and demonstrated this resolve by conducting a nuclear test in February in the face of international pressure. The test is the fourth for the country and comes after it successfully launched a long-range rocket late last year.

"The North must accept that its provocations and threats are no longer effective (in bringing about concessions) and come to the realization that it has to make changes," she said, adding that it is time the North become a responsible member of the international community.

Park, who took office on Feb. 25 as South Korea's first female president, has made the building of trust the cornerstone of her policy drive to engage the communist country.

"North Korea must give up its policies that are fueling its isolation and backwardness and bravely accept the hand of reconciliation being offered by South Korea and the global community and strive for mutual prosperity," Park said. She added that it is her hope that Pyongyang will actively seek to open an era of happiness on the Korean Peninsula.

The president, meanwhile, said that despite various domestic and overseas challenges facing the country, her administration will do its utmost to usher in a period of happiness for the people.

She pledged that every effort will be made to strengthen the economy, create more good jobs and push forward economic democratization, which can ensure balanced growth.

"National unity is vital for generating economic growth and ensuring national security," Park said, and called on the nation to unite under a common goal.

The president then said that respecting all those that have served the country in the past is the obligation of all descendents and that the government will do its part to lend support to those who fought bravely for the nation.

Following the official Memorial Day gathering, Park visited the veterans hospital in Seoul and met with former soldiers who fought in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.


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