Park calls for airtight national defense [2016/01/20 17:56]

President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday called on her top aides to strengthen defense capabilities and maintain airtight readiness posture, saying this year marks a “turning point” in her diplomatic and security policy.

Presiding over the first Cabinet meeting of the year, she also pledged to make constant efforts to put cross-border relations back on track, in an upbeat response to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year address in which he said Pyongyang would strive to improve the ties and continue dialogue.

“This year we are at a very critical turning point in terms of diplomacy and security and must therefore stay vigilant at all times,” Park said at Cheong Wa Dae, citing the possibility of an unanticipated provocation and perennial threats from across the border.

“As a solid and reliable national defense is the paramount foundation, I hope we will step up efforts to reinforce our defense capabilities, stamp out weapons procurement-related irregularities and establish sound military disciplines.”

With unification preparation being one of the top priorities for her statecraft, the president stressed the need to follow through on last year’s inter-Korean agreement and lay the groundwork for a peaceful reintegration.

Top officials from both sides agreed Aug. 25 to hold formal, high-level talks and arrange reunions of separated families -- which took place in December and October, respectively. But no follow-up gestures have been made from either side since the dialogue collapsed due to irreconcilable differences in their demands.

“Given North Korea’ s recent display of its resolve to implement the deal, I want you to strive to normalize the relationship such as by expanding civilian channels for a recovery of the national homogeneity and tackling the issue of separated families,” she added.

In the Friday speech, Kim for his part urged Seoul to cherish the spirit behind the breakthrough and warned against any “retrograde” steps or behavior that may dent the mood for dialogue. “We will actively make efforts for North-South talks and the advancement of relations, and sit face-to-face with anyone who sincerely hopes for the people’s reconciliation, unity, peace and unification,” the young ruler said.

On the economic front, Park instructed the Cabinet to take measures to sustain the economic recovery and boost domestic spending within the first quarter, while continuing regulatory and anticorruption reform to induce private investment and generate more jobs.

To that end, the Defense Ministry unveiled plans to frontload nearly 5.9 trillion won ($5 billion) of its 38.8 trillion won annual budget. It has already allotted more than 195 billion won last year from this year’s budget for facility, clothing and other expenses to help reinvigorate the economy.

“The measures are aimed at increasing the effectiveness of government spending and contributing to economic revival,” ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said at a regular news briefing.
출처: 헤럴드미디어 영자신문 코리아헤럴드 (www.koreaherald.com)