South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on Monday that his country is ready to improve relations with North Korea if Pyongyang “shows its attitude of sincerity,” Yonhap news agency reported.
The announcement comes shortly after Kim Jong-un, the younger son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was officially declared “supreme leader of the party, state and army.”
“The most important target at this moment is peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Yonhap quoted Lee as saying. “If North Korea shows its attitude of sincerity, a new era on the Korean Peninsula can be opened.”
He warned, however, that Seoul would strongly respond to any North Korean provocation as Pyongyang had already said the international community should not "expect any change" in its policies after Kim Jong-il’s death of a heart attack on December 17.
North and South Korea remain technically at war, since no peace treaty was signed following the Korean War in 1953.
Bilateral relations have seriously deteriorated since Lee Myung-bak became president in 2008 and took a tough stand on Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions by ending the unconditional supply of South Korean humanitarian aid to the North.
In 2010, North Korea attacked a border island with artillery fire, killing a total of 50 South Koreans. The reclusive Communist regime has also been blamed for sinking a South Korean warship.