South Korea's new president demands North drop nuclear ambitions

Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:43am EST
 
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By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's new president Park Geun-hye urged North Korea on Monday to abandon its nuclear ambitions, and to stop wasting its scarce resources on arms, less than two weeks after the country carried out its third nuclear test.

In her inauguration speech, the country's first female president, also called on South Koreans to help revive the nation's export-dependent economy whose trade is threatened by neighboring Japan's weak yen policy.

Park, the 61-year-old daughter of South Korea's former military ruler Park Chung-hee, met with the father of North Korea's current ruler in 2002 and offered the impoverished and isolated neighbor aid and trade if it abandoned its nuclear program.

"I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development," Park said after being inaugurated on Monday.

Park, usually an austere and demure figure in her public appearances, wore an olive-drab military style jacket and lavender scarf on Monday and smiled broadly and waved enthusiastically as a 70,000 strong crowd cheered her.

Rap sensation Psy was one of the warm up acts on an early spring day outside the country's parliament and performed his "Gagnam Style" hit, but without some of the raunchier actions.

Park's tough stance was supported by the partisan and largely older crowd at her inauguration.

"I have trust in her as the first female president ... She has to be more aggressive on North Korea," said Jeong Byung-ok, 44, who was at the ceremony with her four-year-old daughter.   Continued...

 
South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye salutes a honour guard during her inauguration at parliament in Seoul February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won