Uri Party lawmakers leave for N. Korea to propose new economic projects


A group of lawmakers from the pro-government Uri Party left for North Korea on Wednesday with a package of new proposals to boost economic and sports exchanges, including the construction of a second joint industrial park.

The five-member delegation, accompanied by agricultural and coal industry officials, will meet with top North Korean officials, including the North’s No. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam, during its four-day visit until Saturday, party officials said.

High on the agenda of the meetings will be the South’s proposals to create another South Korea-developed industrial complex such as one under operation in Kaesong; designate the mouths of the North’s Imjin River and the South’s Han River as a “joint security area”; and jointly collect sand from their beaches and build a cross-border canal linking Seoul and Kaesong.

The sides will also discuss the North’s proposed entry into the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the hosting of a joint academic forum and the possibility of North Korean footballers playing in the South Korean professional league, he said.

“I hear some critics asking what right our party has to do this, but we can play a role as a messenger between officials of the South and the North about important current issues,” Rep. Kim Hyuk-kyu, the delegation’s leader, said before departing at Incheon International Airport.

There have been a series of visits to North Korea by Uri Party lawmakers in recent months, prompting speculation that they were laying the groundwork for a summit between President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The first and only inter-Korean summit, which took place in 2000, generated a series of economic and cultural exchanges.

Kim said the summit issue was not on the agenda, but acknowledged the delegation will respond if Pyongyang brings it up.

Accompanying the lawmakers are Nam Kyong-woo, livestock director of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, and Kim Weon-chang, head of the state-run Korea Coal Cooperation.


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