• ‘Tear down’ frontier with North, S.Korea leader asks

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    UNITED NATIONS: South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Wednesday urged the world to help bring peace to the divided Korean peninsula, thus eliminating the last Cold War frontier 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Addressing the UN General Assembly, Park made note of the upcoming Berlin Wall anniversary in November and said the peninsula “remains stifled by a wall of division.”

    “I call on the international community to stand with us in tearing down the world’s last remaining wall of division,” she said.

    The turn of phrase had echoes of former US president Ronald Reagan, who famously demanded that the Soviet Union “tear down this wall” during a 1987 visit to then divided Berlin.

    Park reiterated her call for an international “peace park” on the tense Demilitarized Zone and her pledge to engage North Korea if it pursues “a different path” that includes giving up nuclear weapons.

    “Should it choose to do so, the Republic of Korea, together with the international community, will provide our strong support for developing the (North Korean) economy,” she said.

    North Korea’s communist dynasty has carried out three nuclear weapons tests, saying it needs the arms to guard against hostility from the United States and its South Korean ally.

    The United States and South Korea have repeatedly pressed North Korea to give up its weapons and have put increasing emphasis on its human rights record, which rights groups say is among the world’s most dire.

    Park called for greater protections for North Korean refugees — a veiled allusion to China which, according to rights groups, regularly sends defectors back to face near-certain persecution.

    “The international community should also pay greater attention to the human rights situation of North Korean defectors,” Park said.

    “Relevant UN agencies and countries should provide the necessary support so that defectors can freely choose their resettlement destinations,” she said.

    Park said a unified Korea would benefit the entire region and “be the starting point for a world without nuclear weapons.”

    “Just as the unification of Germany laid the grounds for a new Europe by integrating Europe, a unified Korea will set in motion a new Northeast Asia,” she said.

    US policymakers often suspect that China sees an interest in maintaining the status quo as a unified Korea would bring a treaty-bound US ally directly to its border.

    AFP

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