President Roh Tae-woo said Tuesday he intends to meet communist leader Kim Il Sung of North Korea in the near future to end 40 years of bitter rivalry between the two nations.
South Korea is preparing a "realistic" proposal to eventually reunite the two Koreas by seeing the north not as an enemy but as "a partner that also seeks to solve this problem," Roh said at a news conference."Besides clearing the way for trade and exchanges between South and North Korea, I will realize inter-Korean summit talks in the near future and achieve epoch-making progress in resolving the Korean question."
Leaders of the two Koreas have never met. On Monday, North Korea agreed to South Korea's proposal that planned political and military talks be headed by the prime ministers of the two countries - the highest level contact between the two sides since the Korean War.
Outlining his administration's plans for the coming year, Roh said the government would continue its efforts to build a strong democratic system and ensure economic growth to raise living standards.
But he also said violent anti-government radicals posed a threat to political stability, and said the government would enforce tough controls to end violent protests and strikes.
"Stern action will be taken to check violent activities intended to topple our democratic society," he said.
The unusually tough warning was aimed at dissidents and radical students who have mounted violent anti-government protests demanding the overthrow of Roh's government. The radicals, who claim Roh is a front for military rule, have little public support and their protests, while violent, often are on a small scale.
Roh appealed to South Koreans to work to create democratic government and political stability. He said the change to democracy since the end of former President Chun Doo-hwan's authoritarian government had exposed and aggravated many problems.