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S. Korea's opposition candidate promises to resume food aid to DPRK if elected president


17:08, November 12, 2012

Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate of South Korea's center-left main opposition Democratic United Party, delivers a speech during a press conference at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club (SFCC) in Seoul, capital of South Korea, on Nov. 12, 2012. (Xinhua/Park Jin-hee)

SEOUL, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in said Monday he will resume sending food to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) if elected president.

"I believe humanitarian assistance should continue," Moon, the presidential nominee for the center-left main opposition Democratic United Party, told foreign correspondents during a press conference. "There needs to be a two-track approach separating political, diplomatic and security issues from humanitarian issues."

The remark, which came 37 days before the crucial December poll, reaffirmed the 60-year-old liberal candidate's frequently voiced commitment to improving cross-border relations that took a nosedive during the tenure of President Lee Myung-bak.

Moon said he will inherit and refine the so-called "sunshine policy" of engagement with the DPRK, advocated by Lee's two liberal predecessors Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.

"Economic cooperation with North Korea (DPRK) will not just help the North but will also create a new growth engine for South Korea's economy," said Moon, former chief of staff to Roh, calling an envisioned economic union between the two Koreas a "win-win" deal.

Greater inter-Korean cooperation will drastically reduce potential for military conflict on the divided Korean peninsula, the candidate said, adding Lee's hard-line policy towards the DPRK only resulted in two deadly border clashes in 2010.

Still, Moon said he is committed to defending the tense western maritime border with the DPRK, the scene of fatal naval skirmishes in the past.

"I will protect the Northern Limit Line to the utmost," he said, referring to the de facto border the DPRK refuses to acknowledge. "Reducing possibilities for clashes along the NLL is one of the greatest challenges facing us."

Moon, who is currently in consultations with independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo for a potential merger between their respective campaigns, has seen his popularity ratings gradually increase in recent days.

The latest survey of 1,500 voters by ratings agency Realmeter put Moon at 46.5 percent compared to 45.5 percent for Park Geun- hyue of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup between the two.

The election is slated for Dec. 19, with Lee constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.
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