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Visiting South Korean President Park Geun Hye expressed concern Wednesday over growing differences in the perception of history in Northeast Asia, in a veiled message to Japan to correct its views.
"For where there is failure to acknowledge honestly what happened yesterday, there can be no tomorrow," Park said during an address at a joint session of the U.S. Congress.
While Park did not single out Japan, her remarks appeared to be aimed at demonstrating the deepening rift between Japan and its neighbors over historical issues and territorial disputes.
Park noted how the Northeast Asian region's "economies are gaining greater clout and becoming more and more interlinked" but that "differences stemming from history are widening."
Despite these challenges, she proposed cooperation over "softer issues" that are free of political conflict such as the environment, disaster relief and nuclear safety.
The South Korean leader said such cooperation in Northeast Asia would "serve the cause of peace and development in the region," and would be "firmly rooted in the (South) Korea-U.S. alliance," which marks its 60th anniversary this year.
Referring to the recent tension on the Korean Peninsula, Park urged North Korea to abandon its development of a nuclear arsenal.
"Security does not come from nuclear weapons," Park said. "Security comes when the lives of...people are improved."
Park said South Korea will take decisive steps against provocations by Pyongyang but will continue to provide humanitarian aid for the North Korean people and gradually broaden exchanges.