Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak on Monday unveiled his policies for inter-Korean economic cooperation. In a speech before the J-Global Forum 2007, Lee vowed to put investment rather than unilateral aid at the heart of inter-Korean economic cooperation. Policies include substantial measures to boost economic cooperation across the border and in Northeast Asia.
Lee said his government would establish a consultative body with the North to build an inter-Korean economic community provided Pyongyang disables its nuclear facilities this year and scraps its nuclear programs next year. The consultative body would serve as a channel to discuss his North Korea plan, which would seek to help the North achieve a per-capita national income of US$3,000. Lee originally announced the plan in broad outline in February as a preview of his diplomatic and security policies.
There are to be five subcommittees under the consultative body -- on economy, education, finance, infrastructure and welfare -- and an international cooperation fund of US$40 billion. Lee is to seek a Korean economic community agreement that would provide the legal and systemic basis for the projects. He also wants to establish an office in North Korea to offer food and medical aid, saying the policy will be to decouple the North Korean nuclear problem from humanitarian aid to the impoverished country.
Lee promised to promote new economic cooperative relations in Northeast Asia that would use South Korean capital and technologies, North Korean labor and Russia’s ample natural resources on the basis of a new inter-Korean relationship.
The candidate described the North Korean regime as a “unique system which has held power for the longest period in the world.” He accused former president Kim Dae-jung and President Roh Moo-hyun of ignoring relations with the U.S., saying his government would place greater stress on South Korean-U.S. ties. Asked about his view on the achievements of the current government, Lee said Roh “has failed to produce any big achievement.”