S.Korea weighs considerations on lifting May 24 sanctions against DPRK

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-11-1 16:50:30

South Korea's top policymaker in charge of inter-Korean relations said Friday that it was weighing various considerations about lifting the May 24 sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that have virtually prevented an expansion of economic exchanges between the two Koreas.

"Public opinion on lifting the May 24 measures is thought to be divided," Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told lawmakers during the parliamentary audit session, saying that Seoul was weighing various considerations about the removal of restrictions.

On March 26, 2010, the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan sank in waters near a western maritime border with the DPRK in what a Seoul-led multinational investigation team said was a torpedo attack by Pyongyang.

The DPRK has repeatedly denied its involvement in the incident, in which 46 South Korean sailors aboard were killed.

South Korea has imposed the so-called May 24 sanctions since that year, banning all inter-Korean economic and personnel exchanges with the exception of the joint factory park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong.

Ryoo said that the removal of restrictions would be necessary in order for the Kaesong industrial zone to develop into an internationally competitive one.

Regarding his remarks, the Unification Ministry said in a statement that the comments should not be interpreted as the need to lift the sanctions immediately, noting that Ryoo was meant to ease concerns about the sanctions.

The ministry said that review on lifting the sanctions would not be made until domestic firms need to make new investments into the Kaesong factory park in the future, reiterating its stance that responsible actions such as the DPRK's apology would remove the May 24 measures.

Ryoo, meanwhile, said that fresh investment of domestic firms into the joint factory park would conflict with the May 24 measures in contrast to foreign firms that are allowed to invest newly into Kaesong under the May 24 sanctions.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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