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Republic of Korea's presidential front-runner, Park Geun-hye, promised on Monday a new policy of engagement with Pyongyang and said she would be willing to hold a summit with Kim Jong-un, the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
In an apparent effort to distance herself from the hard-line policy of current President Lee Myung-bak, who belongs to the same ruling conservative party, Park said she would seek a more "balanced" relationship with Pyongyang.
"In order to build trust, we need to open various channels of communication," Park, a conservative, told a televised news conference in Seoul. "Various channels of dialogue must be kept open to build trust. I will meet with the DPRK leader, if it helps improve inter-Korean relations."
Strained ties between the two countries should be normalized by building political and military trust and promoting social and economic exchanges, said the 60-year-old candidate, who met late DPRK leader Kim Jong-il in 2002.
"We should forgo an era of division and confrontation to open a new era of peace and harmony," she said, stressing that Pyongyang should desist from military provocation and halt its nuclear program.
"DPRK's nuclear weaponry must not be tolerated. We must strengthen our deterrence to neutralize its nuclear and missile threats," she said.
Park, daughter of ROK's former president Park Chung-hee, said she would open liaison offices in Seoul and Pyongyang if she was elected, to facilitate consultations.
Park also pledged to transform a joint industrial park in the DPRK border town of Kaesong into a global industrial complex and invest in the DPRK's special economic zones.
Park's election rivals include Moon Jae-in of the center-left main opposition Democratic United Party and independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo.
AFP - Xinhua
(China Daily 11/06/2012 page12)