07/27/2006, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Power to those who run the country well, says Cardinal Kim

Seoul's emeritus archbishop urges candidates from the Grand National Party to accept the results of primary elections and avoid the mistakes of the past. He expresses harsh criticism of President's Roh and his cool policy towards the United States.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Card Stephen Kim Su-hwan, archbishop emeritus of Seoul, yesterday criticised South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun for his negative comments about US policies vis-à-vis Korea. In view of the upcoming elections he stressed the importance to have candidates who think above all about the national interest.

Although the prelate declined to endorse any one candidate, during a courtesy call from Kang Jae-sup, the new chairman of the main opposition Grand National Party, he warned that it was more important that the country be run well than who becomes the next president. He did however tell Mr Kang: "I hope that you do your job well so the public can trust that the GNP is a party they can rely on".

According to GNP spokesman Yoo Ki-june, the cardinal expressed particular concern that the GNP might repeat the mistakes of the past when it ran divided and lost the elections.

"Cardinal Kim's remarks can be seen as advice rather than support for a particular political party," the spokesman said. "They remind us that the GNP failed to come to power as its candidates refused to accept the results of primaries".

Kim also spoke about a recent controversy regarding the country's foreign policy and comments made by Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok with the support of President Roh on the alliance with the United States.

Mr Lee harshly criticised Washington for its stance on the North Korean missile crisis, saying that the "US failed the most", a comment that President Roh defended.

"While the days are numbered before President Roh Moo-hyun steps down [. . .] and making such remarks as his term nears the end may boost his popularity, the problem is whether they are in our national interest. We can criticise the US, but it does not serve our national interest," Cardinal Kim said.

"Can we hope for a better future or achieve unification without the help of the US?" he asked. His answer: "Of course we could, but from a realistic point of view it is almost impossible".

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