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S. Korean new unification minister vows "flexible" approach to DPRK

(Xinhua)

15:52, August 31, 2011

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- South Korean new unification minister said Wednesday he would think of ways to seek greater " flexibility" in the country's relations with the Democratic People ' s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

"I plan to maintain the government's current North Korea (DPRK) policy," Yu Woo-ik, named Tuesday as the new minister tasked with overseeing inter-Korean affairs, said during a press conference.

"(But) I will think of ways to exert flexibility if it's necessary for improving inter-Korean relations," he added.

A former ambassador to China who also served as President Lee Myung-bak's chief of staff, Yu replaced Hyun In-taek, whose hard- line stance against Pyongyang came under increasingly harsh criticism from the political right and left alike. Hyun has been tabbed as a special presidential advisor for unification affairs.

Yu, a close confidant to the president, denied speculation that he visited the DPRK in June on a secret mission.

Ties between Seoul and Pyongyang, former wartime enemies, remain sour following two deadly border incidents last year. Seoul had suspended almost all exchanges with Pyongyang, demanding an apology.

Yu declined to comment on the border incidents during the news conference, saying he expected the issue to be brought up at the upcoming parliamentary confirmation hearing.

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