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'Sanctions, N.K. provocations would help create unification opportunity'

All News 12:17 March 07, 2016

LONDON, March 7 (Yonhap) -- A vice chief of South Korea's presidential advisory panel on unification has said that international sanctions in response to North Korea's relentless provocations could help create an opportunity for national reunification.

Speaking to Yonhap News Agency from London on Sunday, Yoo Ho-yeol, executive vice chairperson of the National Unification Advisory Council, noted that "precarious situations," caused by the communist state, can generate momentum for the South to pursue and lead the unification process.

"Should the North engage in provocations continuously and cause neighboring states to think such actions can lead to a precarious situation, circumstances may arise when we can expect (international cooperation) for the South's pursuit of unification," he said.

"China and Japan would cooperate in the unification process led by the South. At least, they would not oppose it. In this regard, it is a good opportunity to move China and Japan (toward supporting the South's unification efforts)."

Yoo expressed his views shortly after he held a meeting with young adults in London on the unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Touching on the provocative nature of the Kim Jong-un regime in Pyongyang, the vice chairman pointed out that Seoul should not respond to any of the North's saber-rattling "in a weak manner."

"Under the Kim Jong-un regime, we cannot anticipate that the situation will stabilize through a soft-line approach," he said. "The North would take advantage of it, and this is the stark reality of the regime."

In the meeting with young adults, Yoo said Seoul decided to shut down the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong last month on the premise that Pyongyang would not expect Seoul to take such a strong step.

He also said that Seoul might also have thought that the closure of the complex was needed as the North could take hostage South Korean workers should cross-border tensions escalate into a more serious conflict.

The closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, considered the last bastion of cross-border cooperation and reconciliation, came in response to the North's Jan. 6 nuclear test and Feb. 7 long-range rocket launch.

Yoo added that the punitive measure to close the complex has played a role in encouraging China to change its previously lenient stance toward the North and nudge it to join the international community in slapping tougher sanctions on the North for its most recent provocations.

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