South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.SEOUL – South Korea sees an opportunity for better relations with North Korea as its new leader takes power, President Lee Myung-Bak said yesterday, while vowing to respond strongly to any provocations.
Nanjing Night Net

“Our biggest goal is the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula,” Mr Lee said in a televised New Year address. “We are leaving the window of opportunity open.”

Mr Lee said the peninsula’s political situation “is at a new turning point, but there are new opportunities in the changes and uncertainties”.

“We will be able to open the door for a new era in the Korean peninsula if North Korea shows sincerity.”

The North has harshly criticised the South’s conservative president since its longtime leader Kim Jong-Il died on December 17 and his son Jong-Un took power.

On Friday, Pyongyang’s top decision-making body, the National Defence Commission, warned the world to expect no policy changes under the son.

It threatened unspecified retaliation against the South for perceived disrespect.

The South “will thoroughly maintain national security as long as there is a possibility of provocation by the North,” Mr Lee said. “We will respond strongly if provoked.”

The President said he expected “big changes” and hoped 2012 would be a turning point in the efforts to negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear programs.

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