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(2nd LD) Cheong Wa Dae says no document exists on alleged money deal with N. Korea in 2000

All News 16:43 July 29, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with NIS chief's inauguration speech in paras 11-12)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday the government has no document related to an alleged under-the-table agreement with North Korea in 2000 signed by Park Jie-won, newly appointed head of South Korea's state spy agency.

It was countering political attacks made by the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) that Park had signed the accord, ahead of the inter-Korean summit talks, to offer US$3 billion in financial support to Pyongyang. Park was one of the closest aides to then President Kim Dae-jung, who had a historic meeting with the North's leader Kim Jong-il.

The UFP made public a copy of what it claims to be a secret agreement. Park has flatly denied that he had signed such a document.

"It has been confirmed that the document, called a behind-the-scenes agreement, does not exist inside the government," a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters, citing the results of an internal probe involving the Ministry of Unification and the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

Moon appointed Park as NIS chief Tuesday. His tenure began the following day.

President Moon Jae-in (R) presents a letter of appointment to Park Jie-won, head of the National Intelligence Service, at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

Earlier in the day, Moon gave Park and Unification Minister Lee In-young and Kim Chang-yong, commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency, letters of appointment during a Cheong Wa Dae ceremony.

In a message to Park and Lee, the president said they have a duty to move forward the stalemated inter-Korean relations, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said.

Moon also emphasized the importance of teamwork in dealing with North Korea affairs.

"The NIS, the Ministry of Unification, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and Cheong Wa Dae's national security office should pool wisdom as one team and divide roles," he was quoted as saying.

Park vowed that the NIS will never intervene in domestic politics under his leadership. The powerful agency had long been accused of being politicized.

In his inaugural speech later in the day, Park also pledged to work toward "protecting national security and opening doors for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue."

"I will devote all of my experience and wisdom to striving for the security of the Republic of Korea, peace on the Korean Peninsula, and national reconciliation and cooperation," he added.

The unification minister said he feels a sense of mission for "opening the door of peace before it is closed on the Korean Peninsula."

Talking with the police chief, Moon said the ongoing drive to grant more investigative power to police is aimed fundamentally at better guarding the people against crimes and protecting their lives, safety and human rights toward a "more advanced and democratic system," Kang said.

President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R) walks into a Cheong Wa Dae room along with Park Jie-won (R), head of the National Intelligence Service, Unification Minister Lee In-young (front, second from L) and Kim Chang-yong, commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency (L), on July 29, 2020. (Yonhap)


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