South Korean President Park Geun Hye called for ending the “vicious cycle” of rewarding North Korean provocations, saying it complicates negotiations and emboldens the Kim Jong Un regime to advance its nuclear program.
“We cannot repeat the vicious cycle of the past where North Korea’s nuke threats and provocations were met with rewards and coddling,” she told BBC World News in an interview that aired today. “Otherwise, North Korea will continue to further advance its nuclear capability.”
Park granted the interview before departing on her first European visit since coming to power in February as she seeks to promote trade and lobby for support in pressuring North Korea to stop developing nuclear arms before returning to international disarmament talks. Park will meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris today, address the U.K. Parliament and hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron from tomorrow, and then travel to Brussels to meet with top European Union officials.
Park would be willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if she thought a summit could produce concrete results, she told Le Figaro in an interview published yesterday.
The European trip comes after visits to the U.S., China and Vietnam, while Park said it is still too soon to talk about visiting Japan. She called Japan an “important partner,” still certain aspects of Japan’s militant past, including the issue of Korean women forced into sexual servitude for Japanese troops during World War II, continue to complicate relations. “Perhaps it would be better not to” hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe until more progress is made.
“These are women who have spent their blossoming years in hardship and suffering, and spent the rest of their life in ruins,” she said. “If Japan continues to stick to the same historical perceptions and repeat their past comments, then what purpose would a summit serve?”
South Korea has called on the Japanese government to compensate the comfort women. Japan apologized in 1993 and set up a compensation fund that some victims rejected because it was funded through private contributions.
South Korea and Japan have held two rounds of foreign ministers’ talks since Park took office in February. A dispute surrounding islets claimed by both countries has also strained ties.