02/26/2008, 00.00
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Seoul, the new president begins his mandate by opening up to Japan

According to some Korean analysts, receiving the Japanese premier as his first official guest is a clear demonstration of Lee Myung-bak’s aims to ally himself to Tokyo, and clamping down on North Korean demands.

Seoul (AsiaNews) –The newly elected South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, wants to improve relations with Japan, in a complete u-turn in policy compared to politics pursued over the last 15 years.   His inaugural speech delivered yesterday in Seoul, further underlines this change as does the  first official meeting of his mandate, with Japanese premier, Yasuo Fukuda.

This is what is maintained by South Korean press, which welcomed with “luke-warm enthusiasm” the first presidential acts.  According to the editor of Chosun Ilbo, one of the most popular national daily’s. “the meeting between Lee and Fukuda certainly aims to improve bilateral ties, but it also sends a clear signal to North Korea: that with the new management, there will no longer be blind cooperation”.

In fact, the same president has repeatedly warned Pyongyang that he has no intention of continuing the “sunshine policy”,  of warming ties between the two Koreas launched by the previous administration. Moreover, Lee is still undecided on the further Minister for Unification, a ministry created by the two governments in view of a possible return to unity on the Korean peninsula.

Immediately after the meeting with the Japanese premier Lee said: “I have only just taken up office and the fact that my first meeting is with Japanese premier Fukuda greatly pleases me.  I am sure that we can improve our relations, both economic and diplomatic, in order to guarantee the stability and prosperity of our two Nations”.


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