South Korea has expressed its willingness to back North Korea’s move to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
At a news briefing in Seoul Sunday, five lawmakers from the Uri Party, who visited Pyongyang for four days from May 2, said the North is considering applying for membership of the Washington-based World Bank and the IMF.
“We’ve promised to help North Korea become a member of international organizations,” said Rep. Kim Jong-yull who met North Korean leaders, including Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.
The United States and several developed countries have shown a lukewarm attitude over North Korea’s entry into international organizations, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
According to South Korean government officials, the U.S. _ a major shareholder in the IMF, World Bank and ADB _ has played a major role in rejecting Pyongyang’s repeated applications for admission, demanding the disposal of nuclear facilities.
The five lawmakers of the Uri Party and the North’s leaders also discussed ways to create a joint peace zone at the mouth of the Han, Imjin and Yeseong rivers.
According to the lawmakers, North Korea reiterated its willingness to normalize diplomatic ties with the United States. The North Korean authorities want their willingness to be conveyed to President Roh Moo-hyun and Washington, said Rep. Kim Hyuk-kyu, chief of the delegation.
He also said the two Koreas have shared a consensus on the need to launch an inter-Korean agency to build a waterway between Seoul and Gaesong, and an ecology park, and to open border rivers along the Demilitarized Zone for joint development and utilization.
They also discussed the development of a joint special economic zone, named the New Yellow Sea Joint Special Economic Zone. Seoul also promised to help the North develop a heavy industrial complex near Haeju. The two sides also agreed to jointly develop coalmining in Dancheon, South Hamgyeong Province, North Korea.
The two sides also discussed sports exchanges for national reconciliation and a joint team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The North will consider allowing its soccer players to join in K-League matches in the South, he added.
The lawmaker said, “North Korea predicted the issue over its funds at Banco Delta Asia (BDA) will be resolved soon.”
The North’s funds at BDA have become a stumbling block to implementing the Feb. 13 accord reached in the six-party talks.
North Korea had promised to shut down and seal its primary nuclear facilities by April 14, but it refused to meet the deadline, and insisted it will comply with the February promise only after the money is released.
The money, which was suspected of being related to Pyongyang’s irregular activities such as money laundering and counterfeiting, has been available for withdrawal since earlier this month, but Pyongyang has yet to move the funds.